With ever-changing trends in drinking, from the rise of craft alcohol popularity to the cultural shift of happy hours, one trend sticks out. Several studies have shown that older Millennials have been drinking less. According to our data, all but one category of alcohol has seen an increase in those who say they never drink it. 

So what are Millennials actually drinking and how has that changed? CivicScience took a deeper look at drinking trends of older millennials (ages 25-34) from 2015 to today.

Beer is Best 

Although older Millennials are drinking slightly less beer over time, as shown in the previous charts, beer is by far the most popular drink of choice for this age group, with 34% of the segment reporting that they drink it at least twice a month if not more. Almost 1/5 say they drink it twice a week or more.

While beer is the clear favorite for this age group, how often they drink it has drastically changed.

Drinking beer frequently (twice a week or more or once a week to twice a month) has become less popular over the last 4 years. Most notably, frequent beer drinking experienced a steady decline between 2016 and 2017 –  decreasing by 21%. Today, 1 in 4 millennials enjoy a beer once a month or less. 

Wine is on the Rise

Wine ranks 2nd as the drink of choice for older millennials – ¼ adults in this segment say they have a glass of wine at least once a week to twice a month. And, it may just be becoming even more popular. 

Older millennials are drinking more wine now than they have in the last 3+ years. “Never” responses increased between 2015 and 2017 but drastically reduced by 25% in just one year (2017-2018). Within the last year, it’s become more and more popular to have a glass of wine once a week to twice a month or once a month or less – increasing by 66% and 13% respectively over the last year. 

Liquor is Less Popular

When it comes to spirits, there’s a clear divide in popularity when compared to beer/wine. Only 17% of millennials aged 25-34 drink clear and brown spirits semi-regularly. Well over half of this age group never drinks liquor as opposed to ~40% reporting that they never drink beer or wine. 

Liquor trends look a little different. Brown spirits like whiskey or dark rum have seen declines in popularity as those drinking once a month or less and once a week to twice a month decreased by 6% and 23% respectively since 2015. “Never” responses have stayed relatively flat within the last year but have grown overall by 10% since 2015. 

Every year, a growing number of people in this age group say they never drink clear spirits- increasing by 27% since 2015, while all other categories have declined.  

So yes, drinking is less popular with older millennials. Roughly 40% of this age group says they never drink beer or wine and ~55% never drink liquor. Of those who do drink any type of alcohol, 25-36% say they only drink it once a month or less. But why might this population be drinking less over the course of the last few years?   

When looking at the 25-34 segment of the population, health consciousness and cutting calories is the most cited reason for drinking less. Health conditions, financial and budgeting restrictions, and replacing marijuana with alcohol are less popular reasons given by this crowd but are still potential trends to follow. 

Will the trend of drinking less continue for this age group and generations after them? Time will tell if this is specific to this generation or if it will result in a cultural shift away from drinking.