That would be us, California. Why? Obviously, we lead the league/country in grape juice facilities — we have more wineries (1,756) than all 49 other states combined. Less obvious, though: Washington comes in second, and Oregon third. Basically, if you’re standing in a state that boasts Pacific Ocean views, you should order some vino.
Seven of the 10 booziest states in the country are located in the hot corner that extends from Alaska down to the Southeastern corner of Colorado. Holding the entire region back: Utah, whose weird liquor laws put it on the opposite end of the sousing spectrum. But it has become easier to get a drink in Utah since I first started visiting, as a skier in the 70s.
The Lower 48 have their own battles to fight, but the head-to-head match-up between America’s non-contiguous states is barely a match-up at all. Hawaii, you’re great at many things, but drinking is not one of them. I have always believed that the colder, northern states have more alcoholism, and mental disorders due to the longer darkness of water days.
The land of funny accents and tubed meats is usually thought of as a brewers’ paradise… and it is. But that’s not all: it also boasts a top-10 finisher in wineries (Michigan!), the third-most bars per capita (Wisconsin!), and this ranking’s strongest overperformer in Iowa, which came in 12th overall. I always knew those people with the funny accent were good drinkers!!!
Thirteen of the top twenty states sit West of the Mississippi River, and you have only to turn your gaze Southward from St. Louis to find this country’s most sobering stretches. Basically, the Gateway to the West is also the alcoholic epicenter of this nation. So that’s what that arch is for! St. Louis, after all, is the home of Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser, Busch, and Michelob. Plus, what else is there to do but go to a Cardinal game and get blotto?
See that big yellow smudge o’ sober across the Southeast? Yeah, the Lone Star State (Texas) puts a pretty swift stop to all that propriety with strong overall numbers, headlined by its 46 wineries. That’s more than 43 other states. But in my opinion, it would be pretty sad to drink a wine from Texas instead of a wine from the left coast!!!!
And the Bible Belt: Despite a storied history of bootlegging and moonshining, the South finished dead-last as a region in this race. Look at the bottom 10 states: seven of ’em fall beneath the Northern border of Tennessee! Whether it’s because of pesky blue laws, averse climates for production, low economic impact, or a combination of all those things, this was a sorry showing from the country’s lower-righthand corner.
When this map came together, it became painfully clear just how huge a split there was between the drinking habits of the North and South. North of the Mason-Dixon line, the boozing gets stronger, while South of Virginia, it fades away. Are they still bitter about the Civil War? That would mean less tax revenue for Washington!
It was really cool to see Vermont ad Maine punch their tickets to the top 10 on the backs of their craft beer scenes. New Hampshire, on the other hand, earned its very respectable slot by drinking almost twice the national average of alcohol per capita. Slow clap. Again, I blame the cold and dark winters.
So, it appears we are the land of the free, and home of the boozers.