Liquor sales in the United States were up in 2011 from the previous year, stealing ground from the beer market, and consumers are back to drinking superpremium brands, the industry reported Monday.
At its annual industry review in New York, the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade group, said that last year saw a 2.4 percent growth in production - or 195.8 million 9-liter cases - a near return to prerecession levels.
Compared with 2010, sales were up 4 percent to $19.9 billion, including a record $1.34 billion in spirit exports, the group said.
Peter Cressy, the council's president and CEO, credited the industry's upswing to renewed confidence in the economy, more jobs and marketing innovation, including social networking.
Looser liquor laws, such as newly allowed Sunday sales in Georgia, were another reason given. As far as liquor exports, Cressy said, recent trade developments have made it easier.
"There's also a greater fascination with the history of spirits," Cressy said, adding that interest in the heritage of such spirits as Tequila, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey is driving demand.