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Hard times


Well then:

Americans’ love affair with top-shelf booze cooled last year as the recession took a toll on high-priced tipples.

People drank more liquor but turned to cheaper brands, according to a report by an industry group. They also drank more at home and less in pricier bars and restaurants in an effort to save money.

Industry growth slowed in 2009, with the amount of liquor sold by suppliers up 1.4 percent. That’s the smallest increase since 2001 and below the 10-year average of 2.6 percent.

The lowest-priced segment, with brands such as Popov vodka that can go for less than $10 for a fifth, grew the fastest, with volume rising 5.5 percent, after edging up 0.6 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, the most expensive brands, priced roughly $30 or more for a 750 ml bottle (think Grey Goose, owned by Bacardi), fell the most, tumbling 5.1 percent.

Look. I’m all for cheap booze. But if the liquidationist view of economic collapse had any merit whatsoever, vodka consumption would be swept away with inefficient industries, unproductive farms, overextended banks and the fortunes of irresponsible investors. I think I can speak for Scott, Erik Loomis, and others in judging this recession a complete failure if it fails to drive down vodka consumption by at least 30 percent. If you’re going to anesthetize yourself with liquor, at least allow yourself the pleasure of tasting the sin.

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