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Defining Social Drinking

The social drinking landscape of America is diverse, with particular regions drawn to certain types of alcohol. To find out more about drinking habits around the country, we surveyed over 1,000 people and analyzed more than 450,000 tweets pertaining to beer, liquor, wine, and drinking. We discovered that the South – often portrayed in media as the beer-drinking capital of America – had only three states that ranked in the top 10 for beer tweets. In fact, it’s the only region in the U.S. that prefers hard liquor to beer and malt liquor, according to our survey.

When it came to tweeting about drinking, the residents of the District of Columbia (D.C.) were the most eager to let you know what they were drinking on social media. They had the most tweets per capita in the wine and beer categories, and they had the second most tweets about liquor. However, when it came to announcing abusive behaviors – such as getting drunk or “crunk” – D.C. didn’t even crack the top five. That unfavorable distinction went to New Jersey.

Take a look at all of our findings below to see how the rest of America compares:

Drinking can start at an early age. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four of five college students drink alcohol, and half of college students consume alcohol through binge drinking. It’s easy to hide behind the idea that abusive behaviors are nothing more than drinking socially. But is drinking a beer in the shower social drinking?

The information you see here isn’t intended to promote drinking alcohol but to educate. We want you to see people’s perceptions — and experiences — with alcohol. [While regional preferences for alcohol type may vary widely, the phenomenon of alcohol abuse is a nationwide issue.] If you or a loved one is affected by alcohol abuse, we encourage you to seek help immediately.


Using Survey Monkey, we asked 1,017 people about their social drinking habits. In addition, we scraped over 450,000 tweets from 2011—2013 mentioning various alcoholic substances and terms related to social drinking. Beer, liquor, and wine brands, along with various terms surrounding drinking games, have been grouped to expose the most “the most social-drinking states across the U.S. for these categories. State heat maps are based on the average number of tweets per 100,000 residents each year.

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Please feel free to use and share the images found on this page. When doing so, we kindly ask that you attribute the creators by providing readers with a link back to this page, and so they can read more about our methodology and access additional project assets.

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