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SPIRIT FINGERS

Americans are drinking more canned cocktails during quarantine

a woman sips a martini with olives in it
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
The name is Bond. Quarantine Bond.
  • Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work

After a long hard day, many a person has been known to sigh and declare, “I need a drink.” The coronavirus pandemic might well be characterized as a series of long hard days—and Americans’ alcohol purchases have changed accordingly.

Data Nielsen provided to Quartz shows that retail alcohol sales rose 24% from the week ending on March 7 to the week ending on April 18.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the average American is drinking more than usual. Much of the increase seems to be driven by those who would otherwise be enjoying a pint—or a martini or Chardonnay, as the case may be—in a bars or restaurants. Danny Brager, senior vice president of beverage alcohol at Nielsen, noted in a statement that “consumers are transferring money they might have spent on alcohol in a restaurant, bar or tasting room to something they are buying at lower mark-ups from stores or online.”

When it comes to what, exactly, Americans are drinking, sales of beer, wine, and spirits are all on the rise. But spirits purchases have seen the biggest bump, with a 33% increase.

Among spirits, the three drinks with the biggest growth in sales compared to the year before are ready-to-drink cocktails, tequila, and gin. Canned cocktails—an increasingly trendy and rapidly expanding category—are up by triple digits. Rounding out the top five are cordials and American whiskey.

What’s with cordials, you may ask? Nielsen notes that creams, cognac blends, Amarettos, and Apertifs are selling particularly well, surmising that “some may be ‘flavoring’ their evening coffees.”

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