Where Bars Trump Grocery Stores

March 2, 2010


Maps  / 

FloatingSheep, a fun geography blog, looks at the beer belly of America. One maps shows total number of bars, but the interesting map is the one above. Red dots represent locations where there are more bars than grocery stores, based on results from the Google Maps API. The Midwest takes their drinking seriously.

Of course there are plenty of possible explanations for the distribution. Maybe people get all their food from superstores like Walmart in the red dot areas, so there are fewer gigantic stores than there are small local bars.

Then again, the FloatingSheep guys did their homework and found, according to Census, that the number of drinking places in those red dots are really skewed compare to the average. So it’s also possible that area of the country just likes to drink a lot.

Anyone who lives in the area care to confirm? I expect your comment to be filled with typos and make very little sense. And maybe smell like garbage.

[Thanks, Michael]


  • Or it might be that people in “red” areas are social drinkers, and prefer going to the bar for a bottle of beer to buying a case at a supermarket and getting trashed alone at home. Who knows.

    • Where I’m from (in Wisconsin) alot of the bars are also restaurants, and drinking is really common, you can even drink (until you’re eighteen) as long as your parents give it to you

      • I hope you mean “once” your 18.

      • Nope, until you’re 18. After that you’re legally an adult so your parents can’t “give you permission” But under 18 you can drink with your parents and from 18-21 you’re just in a weird place.

      • I know a couple of guys form Wisconsin , Mark and Pete, and both have chirrosis !

      • Actually in Wisconsin if your parents are with you you can go to the bars at any ages 18, 19, and 20, take a sellers permit class and you’ll learn this. Most bartenders do not know this, but they can choose not to serve the minor.

      • Daniel Quarberg March 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm

        As long as you are with a legal guardian, you can sit in a bar and drink in WI. This has been law for many years. As to the 18 years, I am not sure about that. Yes, you can be 10 and have a beer with dad at the bar.

      • I don’t know a whole lot about the drinking laws in Wisconsin I am from Minnesota. Hey didn’t Favre used to play for the packers?

      • When I was in college the University (which has bars in the Student Unions on all campuses) could become your ‘parent in loco’ with your parents signed permission. You could then drink in the student union bar (beer only). It was a quarter a beer, but don’t end up drunk and disorderly – you would get thrown out of school – no warnings, once and out. It actually kept the students from drinking and driving so much – which in my mind makes a lot more sense than making it illegal and having kids out at parties drinking. It also provided a structure for the drinking activities. Of course, the legal age was 18 and very few students were ‘underage’. But is has always been legal for kids to drink with when their parents in Wisconsin – at least my 81 year old dad remembers it that way.

      • Who drove me home last night? March 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

        Many service ordinances are set by the local municipality, not the state. However, the drinking age of 21 and the fact that you can drink at any age with your parents is set by the state. The local muni can choose to restrict this, but not expand it if they’d like.

        I’ve served kids as young as 13 before. Some parents just don’t care. We have the right to refuse service to anyone, including the parents. I always make the parents order the drink and pay. Then I put it in front of the parents. If they give it to their kids, that’s their business.

      • First of all the drinking age in Wisconsin is 21. I believe there was a law in Wisconsin that was recently changed stating you cannot provide alcohol to your children when in a bar. Also the Drunk Driving laws in Wisconsin are changing and becoming some of the most strict in the nation.

    • I’m a Wisconsin Native. I can certainly understand and agree with the above. Drinking here is taken very seriously. It may be considered unfortunate that alcohol is involved in anything from batisms to dog’s birthdays. In short, it’s easy to see why we’re considered the drunkest state in the nation………it’s from a lot of hard work!

  • Large population of German descent. Historically important breweries all concentrated there (Anheiser-Busch, Schlitz, Pabst, Miller, etc) which probably led to relaxed laws regarding drinking establishments. Just speculation, of course!

    • FYI- Anheuser-Busch is in St. Louis, Missouri – the rest are correct

    • Liqueur sales license are regulated at the municipal level of government. Breweries historically located in Milwaukee have little or no influence on municipalities in the rest of the state.

      FYI- Pabst is in IL not WI.

      • Jesse Hagen March 24, 2010 at 11:57 am

        Pabst has only recently moved their HQ to the Chicago area as they are now a holding company to the rights of the Pabst brand and other beers. When they were an actual brewer, they were started and based in Milwaukee, up until about 10 years ago.

      • Diesel Dave March 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

        I was weaned on Pabst.

  • Having grown up in Wisconsin, it surprises me that there are places that have more grocery stores than bars. Like time said, large population of Germans, and also Polish. The drinking culture in Wisconsin so strong that is legal to drink underage (in a bar or otherwise), as long as your parent is with you.

    • oh so true! grew up there myself.

      • Just acquiring my BA from a the University of Wisconsin I can vouch for this data. We take our drinking very seriously here, this is mostly because in the cold winter months there is literally nothing else to do besides getting silly.

      • Grew up here; still live here!!

    • This doesn’t surprise me at all. I grew up in Wisconsin, as well. We had two grocery stores within walking distance of our house, both of which sold liquor in addition to food. The half dozen convenience stores within walking distance also carried liquor. We also had three dedicated liquor stores and at least a dozen bars within walking distance.

      My home town was almost complete of German or Irish descent.

      • Living in Northern Illinois I can attest to this being very accurate.
        In my town alone there are two Grocery Stores & 5+ bars. This is in a town with a 4k Population.

        In the town I work in, which is only 15 miles away, there are Zero Grocery stores and 5+ Bars.

      • I too, grew up in Wisconsin. I lived in Milwaukee for a number of years and noticed something interesting. In the German/Polish neighborhoods of Milwauke. It seemed each street intersection had bars on 3 of the 4 corners. The other corner was home to either a grocery, a church, or a school. 3 to 1 advantage for the bars

      • I, too, live in a small town just north of the Illinois border – 3 bars, a bowling alley/bar and no grocery store (but a mini-mart). What a great town! I’ve lived in WI most of my life and can attest to the drinking with your parents. Heck, we even let dogs into the bars!

      • I live in wisconsin and our town has 12k poeple and we have 3 grocery srores and 15 bars.19 if you include bars that are within 2 miles from town!!!!!

    • There’s a bill moving through the Wisconsin State Legislature right now to change that law.

    • Actually, it is a misnomer that it is “legal” to drink in Wisconsin if you are underage and with a parent. It is NOT “legal.” The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21 (not 18 as Diane reported). That said, teens can be seen (not on a regular basis) consuming alcohol in drinking establishments while with a parent and, unfortunately, law enforcement will often turn their heads. The others are right, however, that Wisconsinites certainly take their drinking seriously… and it shows with the protruding bellies and wide butts (that was my first impression upon moving to WI over 30-years ago and that impression hasn’t changed).

      • Actually, it is “legal” in Wisconsin for children over 18 to drink with their parent present. Anyone who has taken the class to get their bartenders license can tell you this.

      • Well where i live (wisconsin. just south GB. Appleton area) its ok to drink in a bar with a parent present. The final say is with the bar owner, they have the right to serve you or not.

      • It is actually legal for those who are underage in Wisconsin to be served alcohol with parental consent and supervision. The establishment doesn’t have to serve them, but it is legal. My grandfather was in the state senate and helped put this law through, in addition to my father being a bartender, so I’m pretty damn sure of what the law is.

      • I tended bar full time for 21 years in the state of Wisconsin. Yes, it is legal for a minor of ANY age to drink in a bar with their parent, legal guardian or spouse of legal age (21). The tricky part is after they leave the bar and the minor is no longer with the parent, they can be cited for underage consumption. Of course, the bartender can refuse to serve the minor. Hell, for that matter, the bartender can refuse to serve the parent. Every bar in the state has a sign that reads “We rserve the right to rufuse service”.

      • Jesse Hagen March 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

        30 years ago, WI was probably heavy compared to the rest of the country. The only thing is now every other state has fattenned up and WI is more in the middle of states, as far as obese adults go.


      • billy turmoil March 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm

        Actually, there are 38 states with more “protruding bellies and wide butts” than Wisconsin. May be the most bar-ful, but also the 12th-healthiest according to Forbes in 2009. Also, why is it “unfortunate” that law enforcement would turn their heads when a parent wants to legally buy their kid a drink? Alcohol is part of WI culture, and that a parent might let a kid have a drink is not an ethical or legal problem. I spent seven months in Austin, Texas with people from all over the country when I turned 21, and the people I knew from WI were handling their drinking much better than people from elsewhere, especially the south.

      • It is legal for a child that is 18+ to drink with their parents in a bar. You learn in the Safe Servers class that this is true and they tell you to always give the beverage to the parents and let them serve their own child. I am a bar owner in a small town in Northern Wisconsin. We are an Unincorporated town that has no real grocery store, 2 churches, a post office, 3 gas stations(that sell alcohol), and 10 bars. We are also a big resort and recreation area having one of the bigger lakes in Wisconsin. The next biggest lake nearby is Lake Wissota 30 mins. to the South.

      • Drinking in Wisconsin is literally part of the culture for the state. Friday Fish Fry’s and a Miller Beer is a rite of passage. Not to mention that every Catholic Festival makes a fair share of their fundraising revenues from their beer sales. Gary–the protruding bellies and wide butts isn’t just from the beer–dont’ forget that we are damn serious about our cheese as well.

      • Actually, Gary, it is no misnomer at all. Direct from the revised and updated 2009 Wisconsin State Statutes:

        “125.07 Underage and intoxicated persons; presence
        on licensed premises; possession; penalties. (1) ALCOHOL
        (a) Restrictions. 1. No person may procure for, sell, dispense or
        give away any alcohol beverages to any underage person not
        accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or spouse who has
        attained the legal drinking age.”

        To summarize, it remains legal for a parent, guardian, or spouse 21 or older to furnish alcohol to their child or spouse. However, as a state licensed bartender, I can attest that all establishments retain the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason other than standard Equal Opportunity Employment discrimination criteria.

    • RoseTattoo March 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      Actually, it’s illegal to give drinks to kids under 21, even if they are with their parents [in Wisconsin]. I always thought it was OK, but was corrected by someone who knows the law. When I was married, I was under 21 and thought it was legal to drink with my husband, because he was my legal guardian. [Now I find out that’s not true. Glad they can’t go back 40 years and 2 husbands ago]. We all did it at weddings etc. when we were kids. I just think it’s over looked. Hell what’s a wedding without giving the kids a beer or two?

      • Found Under Wisconsin State Statues under Alcohol and Beverage Laws:
        Can children be in a bar with their parents?
        Yes. Persons under age 21 may be on licensed premises, and can be sold and allowed to drink alcohol beverages, if they are with their parents, guardians, or spouses, as long as those persons are of legal drinking age; but this is at the discretion of the licensee.

      • Here is the link showing where it is legal for them to drink.


    • Ahhhh Wisconsin, gotta love it

  • This is an almost one-to-one to correspondence to whether the state allows beer/wine to be sold in grocery stores:

    Someone ought to map the two together.

  • Poisonboy March 2, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I might question some of the methodology as a manual search on a google map shows more bars in nearly all places. Additionally, social pressures (both moral and status seeking) in categorizing your business or hangout may play a role. When I lived in smalltown German-descent IL, a bar was a bar. Now that I am in Atlanta, many call themselves restaurants or brewpubs or lounges. Though, that might beg the question…is Boston more willing to admit that they drink at bars than Chicago?

  • I can confirm this, from my own experience anyway. I have lived in WI pretty much my whole life. I have been all over the state and I am hard pressed to think of any town that doesn’t have at least one bar, no matter how small. I grew up in a town of 350 and we had 3 bars and one general store type establishment which you could probably consider a grocery store. There are also tons of random bars out in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never run into a grocery store in the middle of the woods.

    • You said it Mike. Small towns in WI have 3 bars and no grocery store or gas station. You really can drive along a random country highway and probably run into a bar (usually looks like a converted house).

      My current town of 4k people has 2 grocery stores (1 is a super walmart, the staple of any town now) and 6 bars that I can think of. And 1 just closed so it used to be 7. In fact, 3 of them share the same parking lot. Oh, WI, how funny you are.

      • Yep I can also confirm this, and not only is it the towns with 4k people. It’s tiny little places that is basically where two county roads cross in the middle of nowhere and there is at least one bar there. I think perhaps another reason for all the bars is up in da north woods :p there are tons of tourist bars along lakes and other places. To be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • The only city in WI that I can think of is Ephraim in Door County. It’s the only dry city we have as far as I know.

      Wisconsin: greatest state in the union.

  • God I love Wisconsin.

  • Jason Stokes March 2, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I’d wager most of the “bars” in the non-red areas are simply restaurants. The midwest and big cities have a strong tendency to have both restaurants/bars and just plain bars – ones that don’t serve food. I know Dallas, for example, has very few “bars” but lots of restaurants with booze.

    • eNonsense March 3, 2010 at 1:19 am

      I’m in Madison and I can say that a whole lot of places that we consider bars here are also restaurants during the day, but also a lot of the places that most people just consider “a bar” actually do have a small grill and deep fryer with a limited menu (burgers and deep fried cheese curds. yum!). I’m pretty sure that there are regulations about how much of your income must come from food vs. booze but ours is likely much less than the 50% someone mentioned below. I think the few places here that have a bar and no food fall into the night club/music venu category but it’s probably difficult to get that license.

      Another very noteworthy fact about Wisconsin. With the exception of very few municipalities, liquor stores here all close at 9pm while bars stay open till 2am. So really, unless you’ve planned ahead, if you want to have a drink after sundown, you’re going to a bar.

      • The 9 pm mandatory liquor store closing is pretty much a city of Madison thing. Most places in the state its midnight. It’s funny because at first you would think there was some moral or public safety impetus for closing the stores so early, but really it’s just to help the bars, which close at 2 am in Madison (and sometimes later elsewhere.)

      • Sorry Teddo, born and raised in WI, currently live in Madison, but grew up north east of here, and went to school in Stevens Point. Everywhere I’ve ever been in this state that has a “C” license (meaning you can take the alcohol off premises) prohibits the sale of alcohol after 9pm. There are a few exceptions in some counties where if the store is out of city limits, then they can serve beer/malt beverages, but never hard liquor. And the state’s legal bar time is 2pm, no alcohol in this state is served after 2 legally.

      • Jesse Hagen March 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm

        For almost the entire Milwaukee area, over the counter alchohol sales stop at 9:00 pm. Bars/restaurants excluded of course… 2:00 am bar time.

  • Why no link to the original site!?

  • From North Dakota here. We’ve got lots of really small communities where the population cannot support a grocery store (they’re most likely within half an hour of someplace that does have one), but can easily support one or more bars. Probably comes down to simple economics, if I had to guess.

    I grew up in a *really* small town in northwestern Minnesota where we had one church and two bars. A neighboring town actually had a municipal bar/liquor store, which I didn’t find out until recently is not uncommon in Minnesota due to state law.

  • Three things come to mind: First, the cold, Northern winters in the reddest areas are great encouragement to opt for indoor activities, such as gathering in bars. Second, many of the areas highlighted are largely rural and there’s just not much to do, especially when it comes to social gatherings, other than go to the bar. When’s the last time you went to hang out with your friends at the grocery store?!? Third, many of the red areas (especially the isolated areas) appear to coincide with college towns. Everyone knows college students like their drink!

  • Ken Grabach March 2, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Ii notice that many of the areas marked in red, for example in Michigan’s north and UP, there is likely to be a small grocery store, and at least one, maybe more bars. Difference between stores and bars, more people use a single grocery store, it can accommodate more people at a time, and the customers don’t sit down while there. Bars have chairs, can accommodate fewer people at a time (except on special events like Canada-USA hockey game), and folk stay at the bar longer. One thing I wonder, does the definition of grocery include small markets, or supermarkets only?
    While lots of these markets sell wine and beer, and maybe liquor too, it cannot be consumed on premises. At the bar, you consume it there, but you cannot take it out.

  • There is absolutely no way that there are more grocery stores than bars in Chicago – especially on the North Side. Nothing about this makes sense. There are tons of bars per square mile in every college town accross the country. I think they need to check their data gathering techniques.

    Also, the visualizations are poor. Why do a sized circle for number of bars map? You get an incomprehensible mess. Why not a color code with # of bars per square mile or something like that? Also, for the grocery vs. bar map, I think a better way to do it would be a bar to grocery store ratio in each zip code and color code it that way.

  • You can almost draw an outline of Wisconsin on that map…

  • Nope, we don’t buy our food from Walmart in the upper midwest. We have more Targets.

    I grew up out east so when I moved here as a teen, there was a noticeable and definite shift in drinking habits and culture.

    We drink a lot here yes, we go out, meet friends, have a good time. Bar culture in the upper midwest is like pub culture in England. It’s just a place to meet and hang out. And drink. A lot.

  • The capital city of Nebraska is often referred to as “drinkin Lincoln” … so, read into that what you will.

  • i was more suprised more of the nation isn’t red… not that wisconsin is. wal mat runs shit here. i’m in beloit. wal mart an woodmans… jeez there has to be approx 20 bars here. beloit

  • i am thinking more about this…. 1. i lived in other states short time . we would go to bars there but they closed earlier (major drag) most of the time large groups of us would gather and pitch in to drink at someones house. in wisconsin people are so anti social and judgemental i see parties mostly with 3 to 5 people. big ones every now and then but mostly really small. 2. i wouldn’t be suprised i wisconsin has more brewery than any other state. they love the wine here too. you can a year old bottle of wine up north for twenty bucks a bottle. i think thats a rip off. but you get the idea.

    • Most people from Wisconsin are far from anti-social and judgmental. It’s not any worse here than it is in any other state.

      As far as the drinking thing, a lot of it comes from state laws. I know in most places in Virginia, you can’t serve alcohol unless you get 50% of your income from food also.

    • Wrong. People in Wisconsin are antisocial? Wouldn’t that be a cause for less bars? Isn’t the whole point of going to bars to socialize? I’m at the University of Wisconsin and there are always big parties. Oh, and I’m sorry you live in a shit hole like Beloit.

      • @Jay,
        I grew up in an immigrant family in the welcoming community of Beloit, went to school at the UW-Madison, and spent significant years thereafter in NYC and Seattle. Restrict your comments to nsmoke. You come off as no better mannered or informed as him/her otherwise.

      • @Jay, your logic is flawed. Anti-socialites would stay home, not go to the bars at all. Your tone and flaming comments reflect who you are.

    • hate fibs March 8, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      we are not anti-social, we just hate stinky, sloppy, lazy FIBS

    • Wisconsin is one of the friendliest states I know! I have lived here most of my life, but have traveled around a lot! I don’t know where you were in Wi but where I live it is one big party! We rarely exclude someone because we don’t know them. Yes some bars do close early because we have no one there after say midnight in the winter we close up and barhop. Wine..$20 a bottle? I don’t know where you are buying your wine but I have had some great locally made wines for $10 a bottle!

  • Being from the heart of the red shaded area (Green Bay, Wisconsin) i know that for years it has been joked that there are more bars than there are churches in any given city in Wisconsin. I am not much more surprised that we have more bars than grocery stores. Sure you have the Walmarts in bigger cities, but smaller grocery stores are still very predominent. Plain and simple… People in Wisconsin love to drink…. A LOT

    • We remain the per capita Brandy consumption kings of the world, and are (IIRC) only 2nd in beer consumption to parts of Germany.

      I moved to WI 25 years ago, from “out west” There is a SIGNIFICANT difference in the way these folks… wait, I’m one one of them now…a significant difference in alcohol consumption and approval thereof.

      I mean, For F$%k’s sake, the legislature is debating whether to “toughen” drunk driving laws and make it a felony after the 4th time, instead of the 5th as it is now. Sheesh.

  • Wisconsin Matt March 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    This will explain so much to my friends in Texas….

  • Also, bar=restaurant, maybe?

    There may be local laws requiring designation of a “bar” where in other places of the country it might just be a “restaurant” if it serves food.

  • How can there be more grocery stores than bars in outstate Minnesota? Are they counting convenience stores as “grocers”?

  • Nebraskan March 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    A small town grocery store has to have a decent inventory with very little mark up or they can’t compete with neighboring Wal-marts, superstores or convenience store/gas stations. People will drive 100’s of miles to save a couple of bucks when it comes to groceries.

    However, bar frequenters are a totally different brand of shopper. Bars don’t need to stock as much variety of inventory. Also, you don’t see people price shopping to get the cheapest adult beverage. It is a social activity. People go where the atmosphere/people are.

  • Well, in the case of MN, liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Can any Minnesotans enlighten us as to why this is?

    • It helps stimulate Wisconsin’s economy. They jump ship and come visit Wisconsinites on Sundays!

    • There are some states which still have what are known as “blue laws,” which prohibited certain activities or sales from happening on Sunday. That’s why about 40 years ago grocery stores, gas stations and the like were closed on Sunday. Massachusetts (particularly Boston) still has some of these laws.

  • I’m from WI, and there really aren’t that many bars here. I’m bored with every bar in my neighborhood, we need more of them.

  • Dairyland March 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    As far as the Minnesota Sunday liquor law: “The short answer: Jesus Christ. The prohibition on Sunday liquor store sales is simply a remnant of the state’s once-vigorous blue laws. Most of these Sunday restrictions–on horse racing, for instance–were repealed by the mid-’80s, but getting drunk on the Sabbath remains taboo.” That was taken from Shea anything blogspot.

    I live in rural Wisconsin. The closest “town” to me used to have a grocery store, but it closed years ago. Off the top of my head, I can think of 12 bars in this “town”. I believe the population is about 900.

  • sconniechick March 2, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I grew up in a small Wisconsin town of 3500. There were 9 bars and one grocery store. 8 of the 9 bars were on main street which is 2 blocks long. Every weekend every one of those bars are packed. I love it!

  • Ben Madison March 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Smells like garbage? WTF? Amateurs.

  • If you have any doubts about this… please check out this facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WISCONSIN-has-been-out-drinkin-your-State-Since-1848/117948532489?ref=ts

    • Cripes, I follow the link and first thing I notice is that one of the followers is from my HS graduating class.

      Makes sense. Yes, we really do take drinking that seriously. This map is not an anomaly.

  • Wisconsin’s accurate for sure. I spent the first 22 years of my life there and have been all over…There are quite a few blocks that are just bars, but very few grocery stores (ie I can name them and their locations off the top of my head, but the bars are far too numerous.)

  • Pierick Smith March 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Wow, we really owe the FlowingData people a huge a great of debt of gratitude. Had they not created this dotted map, we as Wisconsin residents may have never been made aware of our collective drinking problem. Thank you for capturing that elusive and never before discovered data. Your psoriasis dotted map is a gift from the top rung of science — truly a push forward into uncharted territory.

  • I own a Tavern here in STL. We defnitely have a bar on every corner here. Plenty of room for more too.

  • Maybe it’s just because I was born and raised in Milwaukee, but I don’t see the midwest as having that many bars. Also, I can’t believe that California doesn’t have more.

    • Having lived in Sconnie all my life, I was shocked at the absolute absence of bars in Cali. I stayed with a millionaire friend of mine in the city of Clarmont (he lived just down the block from Snoop Dog) while en route to Mexico and asked if we could go to a bar for the night. We did, it was a f*ucking Dave and Busters. He and I were frat brothers in college at Ripon, WI (a harder drinking school than Madison) and so he understood my frustration and explained that was really the closest to a bar they have out there. It’s not that they don’t party or drink in Cali it’s just they typically don’t go somewhere just to drink. However, I am happy to report that Mexico has plenty of Bars as does the international terminal as LAX.

      • Uncle Lawrence March 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

        Your comment is totally true and also hilarious.
        I’m from Germantown, Wis. and I now live in Santa Monica, Ca (suburb of LA).
        I often tell people that Wisconsin is the Sense-Of-Humor-State.
        There’s a bar here that New Yorkers hang out in and I consider them easy pickin’s.
        I’ve been here 35 years and finally there are some real bars to go to, and most of them have been opened by people from other states. (Busby’s in Santa Monica is the bar for UW football games and where the Los Angeles University of Wisconsin Alumni meet; I think the manager is from Wis.)
        The people here like to go to wine tastings so that they can think that they are not going to a “bar”. In fact these are shitty bars because you have to walk around to get your drink, and at a good bar you sit down and they bring your drink to you.
        People in this city also think that there are lots of bars here. I laugh. I tell them, “There’s an intersection with a traffic light. In Milwaukee there would be at least two bars on that corner. Where’s all these bars you talk about?”
        But it’s a lot warmer here. When I was a kid and someone would say how their relatives had moved to Florida or Arizona to retire I did not understand. Now I do.

  • I’m from Virginia and the two red dots there make complete sense. It appears that Blacksburg (Virginia Tech) and Charlottesville (UVA) are the approx location of the red dots. These are less urban areas (less residential/post-college housing) with large universities. So therefore, less grocery stores and more bars catering to the undergrads.

    I don’t wonder if this is why there are a scattering of red dots in “odd” locations around the map.

  • There has to be something wrong with this chart. I’m from Wisconsin and I’ve lived all across the US and now London and I don’t think I have ever in my life been to a city with more grocery stores than bars. For example, what counts as a grocery store? In San Francisco would the corner liquor store count if they sell bread & milk? That by definition to me is a liquor store, not a grocery store.

    • I grew up in a town that has four large supermarkets and zero bars. If I think of the five nearest towns I can think of one bar and dozens of grocery stores.

      I will let you guess which of the many orange areas I grew up in. There are plenty to choose from and they do exist.

  • Montana is also has a very notable red hue. Something to take a look at.

  • Yes the Midwest and Wisconsin in general likes to drink at bars a lot more than the rest of the country. it’s a pretty known fact.

  • You know when you’re in Wisconsin when you stop in an unincorporated hamlet and there are three houses, a car dealership and a bar.

  • Currently living in rural eastern Iowa, we have one grocery store servicing 4 nearby towns. These same towns also total to about 10 small bars. From what I know this pattern is not uncommon here.

  • roflcopter March 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Doesn’t surprise me one bit. Spent my whole life in Wisconsin, 9 out of 10 people you meet are alcoholics. :D

  • Funny, I live in the middle of the red area and don’t even drink!

  • Seeing that map of Wisconsin makes me homesick.

  • WHO”S THAT PUSSY ORANGE COUNTY IN WISCONSIN!?!?! there has to be some sort of error.

  • hahaha, I live in Wisconsin and this is sadly VERY true. People would rather drink beer than eat I think. Having grown up in Minnesota — people love to drink there too, but it’s nothing compared to the ridiculousness of Wisconsin.

    • Every beer counts as one pork chop, why eat when beer can take care of all of your calories.

  • Yeah. I actualy prefer to compare bars to churches.

    Our town has 3 churches, and 3 bars. (sometimes 4 bars.)
    That map is pretty accurate for wisconsin’s bar density.

  • One very important fact that the other Wisconsinites are missing…Walmarts around here sell liquor and beer. I wonder how they are counted in this map?

    • For that matter, every grocery store I can think of, including the upscale trendy organic stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes, or boutique stores like Brennan’s or Fromagination, sell liquor. Even the Mexican and Indian grocery stores in Madison sell liquor. Most gas stations also sell beer.

      Frankly, I think Sconnies just like to drink.

  • WI is primarily people of German, Polish, French, Irish and Russian descent. Drinking is a social thing and we’re very social in our drinking habits.

    Also, at least in Madison where I live, we have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the country, with very few corporate chains… 50-75% of those restaurants have a liquor license and a bar.

  • I’m from Wisconsin. The largely red state. We don’t mess around here when it comes to drinking!!!

  • What else is there to do when it’s super cold out? Plus my friends aren’t that fun when they’re sober. :)

  • I live in rural minnesota and it aint a town until there are 2 bars in town and usually a liquor store. Take Stark, MN for example. 2 bars. No gas station, no other stores. Just 2 bars.

  • In my area of NE, the bars do outnumber the grocery stores, thereby contributing to the socioeconomic issues we have here. This area of town has the highest poverty rate in the nation, yet has more bars than grocery stores. I really wish this map was interactive so that one could zoom in on it because I’d love to take it to a community meeting for liquor license approval.

  • makes me proud to come from WI…

  • I think this is horse-hockey, but it makes a valid point about us here in Wisconsin. We do a lot of drinking, and there are a lot of bars. But for statistical purposes, it’s not very meaningful. One bar serves maybe a hundred people in our small towns. One regional, big-box grocery store serves tens of thousands.

  • Is there a higher def version of this map out there? I’m testing a theory right now. The theory is that I’ve always lived somewhere that is in the red… ;)

  • I wonder what kind of correlation there might be to states with alcohol blue laws? Having grown up in Minnesota, and living in California now, there’s a definite cultural shift that comes from being able to buy alcohol in grocery stores and liquor stores that are open 24/7. I suspect that the limited availability of alcohol pushes higher attendance in bars.

  • A similar pattern on this map of Bloody Marys: http://www.bestbloodymary.com/map.php.

    • Wow, out of the first 40 establishments (alphabetically) on that nationwide list, only 12 are not located in Wisconsin. That says something about us up here.

  • Lived in WI my whole life and the town I grew up in had 3 bars and no grocery store.

  • This doesn’t surprise me in the least. I live in Kenosha, WI and down one of our main streets every other building is a bar, and there are other roads with a significant amount of bars. Bar hopping literally consists of going next door in most cases.

  • Also, I think it’s really funny that the northern peninsula of Michigan is clearly cut off from Wisconsin, like there is some major cultural from one side of that border to the other.

  • Al Coholic March 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Well, growing up in Wisconsin – I cannot fathom why the entire state is not red!

  • Wal-mart itself is a poor explanation for the greater number of bars in the Midwest. What does is the fact that in this area, particularly rural Wisconsin, many towns share one large grocery store, generally located in the largest town in the area. For example:

    The village where my dad lives (Trempealeau, Wisc.; pop. 1518) had a grocery store when I was a kid, but it closed close to twenty years ago. In the 25+ years my dad has lived in Trempealeau the population of the village has increased by nearly 59%, but despite that growth that little family-owned store couldn’t compete with larger grocery stores within a 20 mile radius. Today there is only a budget mart (a gas station that sells some food items), but milk there costs about $5/gallon, and selection of food is extremely limited. The number of bars in Trempealeau, however, has remained about the same or has risen slightly to accommodate population growth. People generally don’t want to drive far to do their drinking, what with the crackdown on DUIs in Wisconsin. According to US DOT statistics, the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities in Wisconsin motor vehicle accidents has fallen from a high of 63% in 1983 to 41% in 2008. Of those fatalities, 34% resulted from drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, down from 57% in 1983. The state has taken great strides in lowering DUI levels, and I think the statistics above reflect that. People will travel 20 miles or more to do their grocery shopping without thinking much of it, but prefer to drink close to home.

    “Fun” fact: At the time Prohibition was passed my hometown in Minnesota had something like 200 bars, easily more than the number of churches, and probably more than the number of grocery stores, within city limits. During Prohibition, the number of places one could buy a drink doubled. However, since Prohibition all the mom & pop neighborhood grocery stores available to residents of my hometown have closed, and now only two proper grocery stores and one Super Wal-Mart (plus one fruit market, one co-op, and a couple of butchers) serve the entire town of 27,000. The population of my hometown has remained nearly the same throughout those 77 years.

    • Along with brewing a large amount of the nations beer, my beloved Wisconsin also produces most of the country’s dairy products… so I’m going to have to go ahead and call shenanigans on your $5.00 for a gallon of milk in a small WI town claim, even from a gas station.

  • I grew up in a small town in Minnesota where drinking was definitely the hobby of choice. There are three bars in town and other venues that sell alcohol, a liquor store, but the only market in town has been threatening to close down for years.

    We also had two country bars outside of town… so those country folk (myself included) didn’t have to drive so far for their fix I guess.

    I’d like to see the same map with the bar to church ratio. We had a preponderance of churches… to save our alcoholic, sinning asses I suppose.


  • Well, having grown up in LaCrosse, WI, I can confirm that LaCrosse is known for having the most bars per capita. It’s also known for having the most churches per capita. And unofficially, also for having the most Northern Red Neck idiots per capita – which is why I moved as soon as I could….

    • LaCrosse isn’t even in the running when it comes to have the most red necks per capita, dope

  • I’m from Winona in SE Minnesota. We have a very large Wal-Mart, a HyVee and two small Midtown Foods for our grocery stores.
    We also have like 50 bars. We have more bars than churches. And it’s a small town, by the way, with around 25K people.
    So I can definitely confirm.
    I remember my high school teacher said it was because of all the Polish immigrants in this region, who loved to drink and would finish a long day of logging at the bars. But new bars still pop up today.

  • WISCONSON26 March 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Ah proof that Wisconsin is the place to be if you like drinking! I can think of one town 10min drive my hometown that has 10bars and 400people. Just in case you don’t believe the above statistic!

  • I can Confirm I live in Houghton Michigan…the Cluster of red dots in the little peninsula on the upper peninsula…between houghton and hancock 6 grocery stores and around 20 bars…population is about 10,000 between the two cities not including the two universities.

  • Max Green March 5, 2010 at 1:56 am

    I notice the map of liquor stores vs groceries follows state lines. The laws regarding alcohol sales are totally different state to state. In some states almost all groceries and gas stations sell beer -‘this is not allowed in others.Illinois allows drive-up window liquor sales which we think is kind of weird in Indiana.My little home town of a thousand people has a liquor store and three bars +a VFW which is basically a private drinking club for the most part.We have only one supermarket [which does not sell alcohol],but I would say the majority of citizens are”teetotalers”.so this ratio is misleading .there are also probably ten conservative protestant churches.

  • I’m really sad, I misread that as more BEARS than grocery store at first…this isn’t nearly as interesting :(

  • i’m pretty sure Oneonta, NY is on this list somewhere

  • Recently I counted 23 bars on the main drag of Hurley WI (2008 pop. 1543). I believe there’s a grocery store there too.

    • That’s a fact!! I’ve been stranded in Hurley WI, middle of January. We were on our way from Minneapolis to Upper-Michigan to do some skiing. When we rolled into Hurley, it looked like “the Strip” in Vegas (I’m not kidding you!). There was neon all over, block-to-block with bars (I think about 4-6 blocks), “sled-necks” (“snowmobilers” for the uninitiated) all over the place, just parking right outside each bar. We partied down at the Silver Dragon, the Iron Horse and a couple other places. It was like a an oasis of debauchery up otherwise tiny quiet rural WI!
      I had heard rumors that Chicago gangsters used to “lay-low” up there back in the day, and that would explain the huge party scene, but I know one thing for sure, the sled-necks keep it alive and kickin’ today!
      Good times in Hurley, WI! ;))

  • It’s true…the Midwest can really handle their liquor. People out of that area always seem to be amazed at how much we can drink in comparison to them…however, their idea of a lot to drink is nothing compared to ours…good thing or bad? I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

    • 5 drinks for men 4 drinks for women, according to the definition of Binge Drinking. I don’t drink regularly, less than one night/week, but when I do it’s usually all of that, but if your out for 4 hours and drink 5 beers, that’s much less than the average 1.5 drinks/hr to remain what the law conciders sober (.08 bac). So is it really a “problem”.

  • Some of the places, like colorado, are tourist areas. You may have a town of 1000 residents, but during the winter that number can easily triple with only 1/3 of the people using the markets.

    Where I lived se had around 1000 people living in a area roughly 5 square miles. there was no need for more than one grocery store, however the economy could support 2-3 bars.

  • you can drive down a country road in Wisconsin and in the middle of freakn nowhere there will be a little bar at an intersection of roads

  • Wisconsinite March 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I live in the middle of no where in wittenberg wisconsin, i am underage, and yes, i drink. LOTS. its a tradition here. some people just dont understand it. in my town there are about 4 or 5 bars and 1 grocery store. my town has 1,100 people. this is a tradtition in wisconsin. and will be for a longggggg time.

  • No doubt we in WI have a cultural issue with alcohol. I also wonder how several other factors relate: harsh winters (vitamin D deficiency and Seasonal Affective Disorder), farm country (maybe we need fewer grocery stores…), state laws & the strength of the Tavern Leagues, relative personal wealth (poverty levels), mean education levels, etc.

    All that said, it’s not stopping me from enjoying the 2010 Point Bock Run tomorrow. Oh yes. There will be beer.

    Moderation & Awareness.
    Peace out!

  • I’m from small town WI, some towns have no grocery stores but they number in bars 3-6 in some with only population of 350-800…..so i would say we do take our drinking seriously….especially around the la crosse area where I grew up in Coon Valley…..probably why we have the high number of river deaths ya think?

  • schofskopf March 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Hurley, WI: 32 bars in a four block area. Population – 1,818.

    1 Bar for 57 residents.

  • I thought there would be more red dots in Wisconsin

  • From WI. Literally a bar on every street corner. But does it matter? I don’t think mega-grocery stores or “there being nothing to do in the winter” are valid theories. I’d be interested in seeing the causality between drinking and underage pregnancy, DUI, school truancy or violent crime.

    In general, I think WI is just full of friendly, extroverted drinkers. People are less likely to grab a six pack at home when they can watch the Badger game with 5,000,000 of their closest friends at the local brewery.

  • This seems pretty accurate to me. I grew up in the Manitowoc/Two Rivers area, and I am pretty sure Manitowoc has the most bars per capita anywhere! Literally one on every street corner. I also went to college at UW-Madison, and the drinking culture was so much fun! You can even be driving out in the middle of nowhere and always come across a bar to grab a drink. I am proud to be from Wisconsin!

  • I am from a small city named Cudahy, located in South Eastern Wisconsin. We were once in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most bars in a small town. There literally used to be a bar on every corner down the main strip. There are still a LOT. A lot of people in our area do what we call “The Cudahy Mile.” You are supposed to stop at every bar down Packard Ave. and do a shot at everyone, and see if you can still walk when you are done.

    But in our defense, there is only two major grocery stores in Southeastern WI that you can really shop at, one that takes a lot more territory than the other, both being BIG shopping center types. And we also have the occasional “fancy” grocery store. And Aldis, the generic food store. There are only two grocery stores in Cudahy, versus at least 20 bars, if not more.

    That is my comment. Hopefully it doesn’t have too many spelling/grammatical errors… or smell like garbage.

  • Case and point on the German hypothesis…

  • First of all, I’m from Wisconsin and can definitely vouch for this map just like so many others already have.

    Second of all, who the hell do you think you are saying you expect the comments to be full of typos, make little sense, and smell like garbage? You must be on some type of high horse because you write a fancy little blog. I don’t care where you came from, what school you go to, or what you’re doing with your life, that’s fucked up man. There are plenty of things I could say right now, but I’ll take the high road and just leave it at that. You need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror.

    • I also forgot to mention after reading through most of the comments, I didn’t find a single typo, everything was coherent, and good luck smelling garbage on the internet buddy.

    • i’m kidding around. relax. i’d think the comment about garbage smell would’ve given that one away.

      • I totally thought it was funny….. And I am from WI. And I have met plenty of people in Cudahy that can barely speak, let alone type, they are so inebriated.. ( I used to work @ a gas station right on Packard Ave.) And, yes, they did smell like garbage, as well as urine. So I think the comment about smelling of garbage is completely relevant, and absolutely hilarious. Get a sense of humor Derek, and stop ruining something that was meant in jest.

  • Understandable. Maybe your sense of humor is evident to people who read your blog regularly, but I was just linked here off of FB and sarcasm is hard to decipher online. So it just seemed to be some other arrogant asshole on the internet. As you obviously know, there are people who truly believe what you said, so I figured you were one of them.

    It’s cool. Good luck with your endeavors.

  • Brendan Byrne March 6, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Your last paragraph’s insults aside, this looks about right.

    Funny enough, the near dilineated state on that map has a capital that trumps passport ownership over the rest of the country by nearly 4 to 1.

  • Oh man, this was one of the funniest things i’ve read in a long time (the collection of comments). Ex-Sioux City, IA here…someone way up in there in the comments correctly observed that people just like to go out and socialize.

    Funny bit though…something like 19 years ago, some friends of mine and I started a festival in Sioux City. First year, we were nervous that no one would show up (free show, beautiful natural amphitheater, good blues & zydeco music…but we were nervous). So, my brother and I volunteered to spend a night putting up posters in all of the bars in town. Ended up hitting 85 that year and missed one whole section of town. Population is/was about 85,000. There is no way that there are even 30 grocery stores, and that’s counting 7-11 and Quick Trips. More bars than grocery stores? Duh.

  • I’m betting that in most of the “yellow states” you can buy liquor in those supermarkets 7 days a week. For example, in Michigan your average Krogers or Meijers has a liquor aisle. In MN (and I believe IA), grocery stores can only sell up to 3.2 alcohol, and liquor stores must be free-standing (and are closed Sundays).

  • I’m also from WI, and I had a hard time with the idea that there could exist such a town that would have more grocery stores than bars. It just doesn’t make sense.

    I currently live in Appleton, which is a city of about 72,000 according to the 2000 census. My guess is the population is about 100,000 today. I cannot count the number of bars. I had to think about it for a while before I could count how many bars there are in walking distance from my house. There are 22. My guess is there is (easily) over 100 bars citywide. There’s only about 5 or 6 grocery stores.

  • The rural Wisconsin town where I grew up has 1400 people, 6 bars and 1 grocery store.

    I’m not sure that the data indicates that Wisconsinites drink a lot – which they do. But the data might say more about consolidation of food distributors and resistance to consolidation of bars in a rural area.

    When I was young there was a butcher shop, a meat market and a few specialty grocery stores – all of which are now closed or consolidated into one main supermarket. People are willing to drive a few miles to save a few cents on groceries – which leads to the efficiencies of consolidation, but they’re not likely to go to a bar in a neighbouring town just because beer is a few cents cheaper.

  • I grew up in LaCrosse WI. Back in the 70’s the city had a limit of 1000 liquor licenses and they were all being used. The population of LaCrosse was only 50,000 so yes…one liquor license for every 50 people. You couldn’t walk too far in any direction without finding a neighborhood tavern. I attributed the concentration of bars as a means to surviving the brutal winters. Good times and lot’s of friendly people that’s for sure. Nothing like pulling into a convenience store for a few gallons of gas, a pack of smokes and a quart of brandy. Unfortunately, my wife and I were not alcoholics so we were asked to leave the state.

  • “That area” is called Wisconsin. Good to see the old saw about Wisconsin communities holds up to the empirical evidence.

    Definition of a Wisconsin:

    – township – one bar

    – town – two bars and a church

    – village – four bars, two churches, one of which has a bar in it, and a gas station

    – city – one hundred bars, a dozen churches, a few gas stations, at least one of which has a bar in it

  • to hrd to anser-just cam from bar with your husbnd

  • The map doesn’t fairly account for distance. North Dakota is a sparse place that grows a LOT of food. Gardens are the norm. When you have two towns that are 20+ minute drives from one another, it makes sense that only one of them has a grocery store that you visit weekly or monthly. It does not make sense to drive 20+ minutes for a few drinks with friends and family.

  • Wisconsin, i think we need to talk…

  • I live in Wisconsin. We love our liquor.

  • I live in Green Bay, WI and all my friends and I do is go out and completely wasted and engage a blackout… Yea we drink a lot around here

  • Like many of the people who have commented, I grew up in Wisconsin. My town had 300 people in it. There were 5 bars. The closest grocery store was 13 miles away. There were at least 7 additional bars (likely even more) closer to my home than that grocery store. I frankly was shocked to see how many places have more grocery stores than bars. Why do you need so many? Even in a city? A grocery store can accommodate a large number of people and you only have to go there once every other week or so. A bar can only accomodate a small number of people and many people go there more than once a week… or maybe that is just people in Wisconsin.

    I do agree with what Jeff said though about people being willing to drive farther to save money on groceries. Most small town grocery stores go out of business because it costs so much to ship the products in, and customers aren’t willing to pay that increased cost. Small town bars on the other hand have ridiculously cheap drinks.

  • Unfortunately, you are correct. The city I live in has one road, aprx. 1-2 miles long and at any given time has 20-30 thriving bars. What is upsetting is our poplutation is less than 150,000. There is a reason most psychopaths are from the Midwest.

  • BubbaGump March 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    EVERY day in ANY WI newspaper:

    MADISON, Wis. — A Madison man is facing charges connected to his SIXTH offense of operating while intoxicated.

    Juan Lopez, age 53, was arrested just after midnight Monday morning by deputies from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department.

    Investigators said a resident called 911 after seeing that a vehicle had crashed at the intersection of Mid-Town and High Point roads.

    Lopez’s 1991 Chevrolet van was found stuck in a snow bank about 200 feet off the road, according to the sheriff’s department.

    BRODHEAD, Wis. — A Brodhead woman is facing charges for allegedly operating a snowmobile while intoxicated.

    Green County sheriff’s deputies said that Michaela Schauer, 44, was snowmobiling in the Town of Spring Grove when she crashed. She said the snowmobile wouldn’t stop, hit a parked truck, spun around and hit a 9-year-old boy standing near by. Authorities said the snowmobile then kept going until it hit a fence, ejecting the driver.

    Both were taken to the a Monroe hospital, but only suffered minor injuries

    Schauer is facing charges for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated and causing injury by intoxicated use of a snowmobile.

    • Jaun Lopez, Yup, He’s definately a local. Lets extend the map south of the border and see the problem down there, oh and they’re moving north, but that’s another problem for another day.

  • yes, we like our bars in madison. every place i’ve worked here (and now the studio i own) has a ‘beer fridge’. no kidding.

  • I live in Oshkosh, WI and we have roughly 10 grocery stores (counting Walgreens, not counting gas stations.) There are more than 10 bars on main street alone. It’s pretty nice to be able to pick and choose where you drink, as every bar around town has a different environment, drink specials, and people who frequent it. Bar hopping is also way easier.

  • Seeing a large amount of bars around the Boston area does not surprise me! Most of the population is of Irish decent! And we like our beer! :?)

  • http://www.mnplan.state.mn.us/maps/ancestry/us/german.gif

    Concentration of those with German ancestry in the US… Anyone notice a resemblance?

  • According to Yelp, my neighborhood (92109) has 48 full bars and 5 grocery stores.

  • there isnt shit else to do in wisconsin

  • It has a lot to do with heritage and business for Wisconsin. The tavern league of Wisconsin is quite an influential force and the culture is very “work hard, play hard” in nature. In fact your first DUI in Wisconsin is still not considered a criminal offense. First time is a misdemeanor and WI was the last state to move from .10 BAC to .08 BAC due to federal pressure from the federal government to repeal funding for maintenance on highway infrastructure.

    You know it’s culture when your state’s attorney general gets a DUI.

  • My Mom grew up in Viroqua, WI (Vernon County, the county next to La Crosse) & it was a dry town which meant that there were no bars or liquor stores within the city limits; that’s why the bowling alley was just outside the limits! Not sure if it is still a dry town. I grew up in Milwaukee and in the areas of town near the factories, there were at least 3, if not 4, bars on the corners of the major streets; not sure if that’s still the case since I now live in Madison where the tailgate parties start early in the morning before and go on for hours after the Badger football games. Madison definitely has more bars/brewpubs than grocery stores. I can think of several small towns around Madison that have no grocery store but have numerous bars – who needs to eat when you can drink?

    • Viroqua is still dry. I live in La Crosse, just north of there. They had a referendum in the last election to change it, but it didn’t pass. Being from La Crosse, it’s hard to imagine!

  • Wisconsin has a problem. We know this. It’s not going to be easy to change.

    I like how no one’s pointing out that the entire Boston/Providence metro area is in the same situation, though, and it’s not just because you can’t buy liquor in the grocery store.

    • PK, whatever change you’re trying to peddle, we don’t want it. In fact, on behalf of the entire state of Wisconsin, l would like to say, “mind your own god damn business.” Stay in Boston you tea toddler, you wouldn’t be welcomed here with that attitude.

    • Diane Kundinger March 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      PK, No problem here in Wisconsin. We work hard, play hard and when we get to relax, we just choose to do it differently than you. That doesn’t mean we have a problem. Maybe it’s just people who think we do because they don’t know how to kick back and have fun. I feel sorry for those people.

      What’s your state. I am sure we can find it’s problem as well.

    • People will have fewer problems if they spent a lot less time judging others.

  • I see Western NY is red, and there are a lot of bars in Buffalo. But the grocery stores are HUMONGOUS (heard of Wegmans?), so I think if you calculated the bar:grocery ratios by square footage you’d end up more balanced.

  • One reason for this, in North Dakota, is the grocery stores are not allowed to sell alcohol

  • Having been in Wisconsin at least one or two times a year, I find this to be true, however living in Las Vegas for the last 15 years I find this map to be off somewhat. This is a town that sells beer 24/7 and I do not even see a red dot in that area and find this odd with all of the casinos and bars……

  • it is said that a bar needs only 6 regulars to maintain it fiscally….

  • I’ve lived in Wisconsin my whole life, and came from a small town. The reason there’s more bars: There isn’t much up here to do besides drink.

  • There are very many churches in Wisconsin and most of those red dots are needed just to supply the parishes with church wine.
    That’s our story and we are sticking with it.

  • On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin………………

  • I think there should be a map showing the distribution of people throughout the nation commenting on this article. Seems like the VAST majority of people on this comment boards are from Wisconsin….including me.

  • No disrespect to the Midwest but in Louisiana, the grocery stores sell liquor too.

  • joyce esser March 16, 2010 at 8:24 am

    ……….can you spell condescending?????

  • Id say this map is pretty dead nuts. Ive lived in kenosha my whole life . ktown used to have more bars per capita than any where else in the country, whether that is still a fact i am unsure. But i do know that there are 25+ bars and a couple pubs with in a mile radius of my house I mean its wisconsin for christs sake! thats how we role.

  • I think the fact that Wisconsin consistently ranks high in national educational statistics speaks greatly for my state because we do it all with a beer in one hand and a brandy old fashion in the other.

  • The town I grew up in in Wisconsin didnt have a grocery store. Not even one. You had to go to the next town over to get groceries. We did have 6 bars though. I think thats a pretty good percentage.

  • I grew up in a town of 900 in SW Wisconsin. We had one grocery store on main street and also 4 bars all within crawling distance. We had a lot of Irish and German descendents and I assume a lot of cirrhosis. With such a small population and such widespread drinking, we had to take turns being the town drunk!

  • I live in a small town in Dodge County of about 3700 people. There are no grocery stores here and have to travel 15 minutes to another town to get to one. But here in town, there are 5 bars and overall, several places to buy alcohol. It is pathetic seeing how many accidents involved because of drinking here and how many drive on suspended licenses as well as have numerous DUI’s. Nothing is done about till someone is hurt and then it is too late. The laws on drinking may be tough, but what good are they here in Wisconsin if they are not enforced. I think more people should spend less time drinking and spend more time with their families and loved ones without the booze in hand.

    • Diane Kundinger March 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      Patrick, I am a Dodge County person too. Live in the great northwoods now, but Dodge County was full of bars and fun. I think we just all need to be responsible for our actions and if we are going to party, we have to make sure we do it safely.

      • Thanks for the response. I agree, but that is now what has been happening here lately. To me! If one gets pulled over for drinking and driving! Their license should be suspended for a few months. But reading and hearing what I hear each day in the papers and news, a suspended license still doesn’t stop anyone here from driving. I guess I was raised different and it wasn’t here in Wisconsin. Drinking and driving was not a thing to do, nor was partying and getting stupid.

    • yah, wisconsin probably has one too many bars, but people choose to drink. alcohol doesn’t kill people. it’s people with no control that do. just like: if guns kill people, do pencils mispell worlds? i’m proud of wisconsin and my heavy irish roots.

      • Diesel Dave March 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm

        It’s “misspell”, but if you’re from Wisconsin it’s ok, we’re a forgiving people.

  • Diane Kundinger March 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm


  • Lynn Bonneville March 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I found your information very interesting. As a long time resident of Western Wisconsin, I can assure you that there are alot of bars in the state. However, we are not all a bunch of alcoholics. The bars in my area are used for morning cofffee get togethers and a social place to see friends and neighbors. I am insulted that you would think that my message would be full of errors, etc. Just because you may be an associate professor, don’t let it go to your head; there are other educated people in this world.

  • Grocery stores, along with many other industries, are becoming more and more franchised. People, in general I believe, like getting as much out of one store as possible. This is hypothesis based on the growing trend of Super Walmarts and Targets. The nice thing about bars is that people would rather have a “Cheers” feel. While some want the large club, many would prefer a hole in the wall gem of a bar where they can hang out for hours, get the drinks a little cheaper, know the bartender’s name, and even possibly have a usual drink.

    As for people from Wisconsin being dumb… thanks. It makes it much easier to surprise you with our wit and intelligence. There are plenty of people who hold advanced degrees, and there’s a great amount of respect for the hard working people who make life a little easier each day for the rest of us.

  • I live in Madison, WI and I have to say this is most definatley true, and I also find it odd that it is not true of other places in the US, as bad as that may sound. I know “college town” is particulary bad but how many different kinds of supermarkets do you need? Where as different types of people prefer to spend time at different kinds of bars. These bars are not packed every single day and some are not even open on certain days. In contrast we have several very large grocery stores which stay open 24 hours in some cases, and are always busy. However from what I hear we do drink far more here in the Wisconsin. I think there are a lot of factor that play into this.

  • On St. Patricks Day in Milwaukee there were 77 DUI arrests and I think 5 Bar fights per the Milwaukee Journal. Wisconsin has a long heritage of drinking and is a “land of drunks”. The culture is heavily tilted towards drinking. Many social events being tied to alcohol (brewers & packer tailgating, summerfest, summerfest, church festivals). Wisconsin is #1 for binge drinking out of all 50 states. Look at the graduation rates for MPS (less than 45%) and you see the long term effects of this culture. We left and will never go back. It is a cold, pothole filled, alcoholic, tax hell.

    • Wisconsin’s awesome. Good riddance to you if you don’t like it, I say. You leave a state because of potholes? Wow…you must be a joy to be around at parties :^/

    • GeckoDeLimon March 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm

      You wouldn’t believe the brouhaha we had in your honor.

      — GDL
      De Pere, WI

    • Bill@verona March 23, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      The Milwaukee Public School system’s drop out problems aren’t alcohol-related. Wisconsin’s state-wide academic performance compares well with other states that don’t have the same relationship with alcohol.
      That said, I’ll admit a problem with drunk driving. That’s got to be controlled. But to blame Milwaukee’s dropout problems on the drinking culture is pretty uneducated.

    • Thank you for leaving, because it sounds like we don’t want you here anyway. Only 5 bar fights for a population of over 600,000 sounds pretty low to me, you see, the only binge drinking done around here are from people that didn’t grow up here. So thanks for leaving you can feel pround about making the state better by leaving.

  • I’d like to see a chart showing which areas have more bars than churches. Once lived in a town in central WI that had 3 bars, 2 churches, and no grocery stores.

  • There is a bar on every corner, on every block, and within sight at all times. It’s actually very convenient.

  • If all the beer drinkers in Wisconsin and elsewhere in this
    country would take the money they spend on beer and send
    it to Obama, he could use it to cut health care, help the de-horns
    in Acorn, and buy all the boose his VP needs.

  • i live in wisconsin and am proud of it!

  • There are places with more grocery stores than bars? Who knew. I definitely wont be living there any time soon.

  • Diesel Dave March 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    It’s obvious you haven’t spent a lot of time in a Wisconsin bar. You think the only activities going on are drinking and singing about drinking. You’re missing the whole social aspect of the establisments we frequent. We shoot pool (that’s billiards to you more sophisticated souls), play cards (sheephead, cribbage, etc; no poker, gambling is illegal in WI wink, wink), shake dice (for drinks), and shoot darts. Note there are leagues and tournaments for every one of those activities and I found, just recently, a Wii bowling league at one of the bars I frequent for Friday night fish fry. We watch every kind of sports on big screen TV’s, and give local bands an outlet for being discovered. Nothing compares to a gust busting burger or pizza served by Sudzie the bartender after 3 hours of watching the Packers kick the Viking’s rears. Yes,there is alot of drinking going on but to tell you the truth in most cases it’s a secondary activity to what’s actually drawing people to the taverns. Give us some credit. You’ll never find a more sociable culture than the Cheesehead Nation.

  • WI is a fun state – its been shown over and over again in nationwide rankings and polls. Milwaukee is also a fit city in rankings – see Men’s Health for example (so don’t hang that “beer belly” stereotype on us). We also have great culture, performing arts, outdoor year-round recreation and world-class food and music. We enjoy life and are friendly – come to Milwaukee sometime for a visit. You’ll love it! Seriously.

  • I own a bar in Wis. and I love the bar business in Wis.

  • pres parrott March 23, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I live in Texas and have lived across the southern tier of states. In my opinion the reason for the lack of bars in the south is the influence of the southern Baptist religion. The preponderance of Baptist voters kept the “Blue Laws” prohibiting sales on Sundays and keeping Blue Laws on the books for most of my 68 years have limited the number of bars. I think that if some homes where the entertainment takes place a lot were considered a “bar’ were counted there would be a lot of red dots in the south.

  • HeresYourAnswer March 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I don’t know about other states in the south, but in Virginia actual bars, like the kind they have in Wisconsin, are illegal. In order to get an ABC liquor license, I believe you have to prove that a certain percentage of your sales are in food. So, yes, as someone mentioned above, likely most of the southern states have “bars” that are actually restaurants. I seem to recall in North Carolina you can serve booze w/o food if you have the place designated as a “private club.” So these sorts of blue law things are messing up this map a bit.

  • I grew up in a small community in central Wis. and we’re expected to take drinking seriously, it’s out good German heritage, and I still live here 40 some odd years later in a town of 350, 3 bars/supper clubs, 1 church, 0 grocery stores. But laws have changed since I was young, I was served at a local country tavern at the age of 16, without my parents present, and new the owners all my life, tough to get away with that now. Police use to take you home if you had a little too much to drink, now there are a few that might, but most will take you to the clink. So the atmosphere around here has definately changed, but not near as much as in the big city.

  • I believe this is the case because of the damn prohibition liquor laws that make peopel buy booze in liquore store or off-sale at a bar…you can’t buy booze a grocery store in ND.

  • I am from Wisconsin and I consider this map to be a dirty lie. There’s not nearly enough red.

  • I bartended in a small town in northern Wisconsin and now live in Milwaukee. It is legal to drink if you’re under 18 with a parent with you. Although, the bars can refuse to serve to minors even if they’re with parents. It is up to the bar’s discretion. A lot of WI parents would get rather mad when they are told that their children may not drink in the bar even when the parents present.

  • You know, after reading the comments regarding bars in Madison, WI. I have to say I really don’t know what your talking about us having alot of bars. I mean I have to walk a FULL block and two streets to get to my local bar. (Two blocks the other way.) This compared to other towns in Wis that I have lived in where I just had to cross the street to go to my choice of 2 bars side by side. :)

  • I would like to point out that Fairbanks, Alaska also has a similar drinking problem, albeit on a lesser human scale, given its lesser population. A microcosm of the Midwest, but I think it lacks the previous blue law heritage that burdened Wisconsin and rural Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and Montana. (By the way, Wisconsin Territory could jail you for working on Sunday, unless you were an Indian.)

    Wisconsin has a tourist map with three things on it: breweries, wineries, and cheezeries. Have spent some good weekends pursuing the dots on the map. They should have some sausageries on it also–you need sausage to go with the beer.

    To me the greatest eye-opener on the map is the South. I now know much more about it than previously.

  • WOo HoO Go Wisco!! I wasn’t even going to drink tonight, but seeing as we are the reddest state on the map, I think I’ll have a beer in celebration.

  • ive lived in wisconsin most my life in a ten mile radias there is one grocery store and 17 bars in twin lakes there is a bar right next door to another bar 5 bars in a town of 3800. shit when i was down in north carolina some counties are still dry and you cant find a bar like around here they all are resterants with bars

  • This map is ridiculously misleading. I’ve been around the country and have never been to a city with more grocery stores than bars. Now, many of these bars may be labeled “restaurants”, “clubs”, “hotels” or something for the sake of this map because they are more than just a plain old bar.. but they are bars nonetheless. Especially chains like Hooters, Buffalo Wild Wings, Tilted Kilt, etc clearly have a bar atmosphere but I’m sure they were called restaurants for this study.

    I live in Madison, WI and there are DEFINITELY tons of places to drink, make no mistake. But, when I’ve been in San Diego, Austin, Orlando, Buffalo, Memphis, Phoenix, New York, yadda yadda, there’s been PLENTY of places to go for drinks. Far more options than for groceries.

    Now someone get me a beer, damn it!

  • Mike in Wisconsin March 24, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Hey … you can barely see Wisconsin under all those red dots!

  • us wisconsinites sure like to party

  • The Midwest likes to drink! In fact, Watertown, Wisconsin had more bars per capita than any other city in America back in the 80s. It is a social thing like the pubs in England. People gather here and do other things besides drinking. They are social gathering areas.

    Where I live in Minnesota, we have 5 large grocery stores and at least 12 bars, not including restaurants that have bars in them. It is a college town, but what can you do?!

  • An honest map would compare square footage. Speaking for WI, the majority of the bars from the IL border to the south shore of Lake Superior are neighborhood bar/grills with less than 25 seating capacity. Also, wal-mart has pretty well infested the Midwest and snuffed out all the neighborhood grocery stores.

  • Wow, just wow.
    That’s crazy.

    • Diesel Dave March 24, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      Wow, Sasha’s hot, but maybe that’s just the beer speaking, but I highly doubt it, I haven’t had a beer since Saturday.

  • Scary, very scary. OWI’s have to lead the nation too. I fail to see where this would be something to brag about.

  • Dennis Presser March 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Check out the map on wikipedia.org, of German-American distribution, as of the 2000 Census (just past halfway down the page).

  • I am from Wisconsin, and I believe that the map is in error, as there are some noticeable yellow spaces on the map. I don’t think that there is any place in Wisconsin from where you can’t throw a rock and hit a bar. I don’t even think we have “grocery stores”. We have liquor stores that sell lettuce and other essentials.

  • My home town in Wisconsin has around 600 people, two bars, two churches and no grocery store. We do however have a gas station which sells little debbie cakes, milk, and booze.

  • i was raised in wisconsin…definitely more bars than grocery stores where i lived. now i live in wyoming. south/west/central area, in a town of 5000. there are 2 grocery stores and 6 bars….and 5 of them have drive thru windows:) lovin’ it:) guess i moved to the right area to feel at home.

  • Wisconsin to So.CA. March 25, 2010 at 1:55 am

    I grew up in La Crosse, WI. Home of the original Old Style Lager. Drinking age was 18 when I grew up, and I was bartending by the time I was 19. When I moved to So. Ca. in the early 80’s I was amazed at the unreasonable drinking of the 21 year olds…and older. Call it what you want but, I feel that we learned a lot more respect for and about drinking from 18 and on, then the 21 and over crowed. And as far as all the red dots on Wisconsin….well… we like, and enjoy our drinking. I would be more impressed to learn the per-capita of DUI’s from state to state in regard to the amount of red dots.

  • wisconsinite March 25, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Midwest?? hell thats wisconsin in the red not the midwest

  • Here in the Toe of Minnesota, the town is FULL of little Mom and Pop taverns, each seating about 12. More like someone’s kitchen with onsale.
    You can see that there used to be a lot of teensy neighborhood groceries and bakeries, too, but they are all gone- replaced by the big groceries.

  • Being German/Norwegian from North Dakota, it would be interesting to compare the red dots with the % of population that is German and Scandanavian.

    • I agree R i’m a Wetzel -German-Irish-Indian I gots everything going for me Wisconsin has a huge German decent

  • This is no suprise!! I grew up in Milwaukee, several of my friends families lived in a double decker house. The family would live on the second level and the tavern (which the parents ran) was on the lower level. My friends and I would play in the bar area, squirting each other with the soda guns. Usually, the bar wasn’t too full at 2:30 in the afternoon…… after school activities!!!! Good times

  • I think you need to look at the big picture, I live in Wisconsin and my town has 2 bars and no grocery stores, but the bars only hold about 30 people tops and one grocery store in neighboring area holds hundreds of people. Size of the bar and patronage is a big factor also.

  • Son of Wisconsite March 25, 2010 at 10:49 am

    My mother grew up in Wisconsin, and told me that many main rural intersections had a small local tavern, which in some ways functioned as rural community centers for socializing, catching up on news, etc., similar in many ways to Irish pubs.

  • Diane Kundinger March 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I bet the people not from Wisconsin would be very proud if the map showed whore houses instead of bars and their state was in all red.

  • I have to say that you are all making me a little sad. As a person of strong German heritage who is stuck in New England, you are making me want to move to Wisconsin!
    Some folks commented that they can’t imagine that there ARE places with more grocery stores than bars, but I can vouch that this is the case where I live. It is a medium-sized city, and there’s one or two large groceries, and a good number of mom and pops, but a true BAR doesn’t come to mind. There are plenty of restaurants with bar areas, and I think there are a few clubs that the younger set frequents (those are probably considered bars), but I can’t think of a single “bar” in the classic sense. However, with the large number of booze-serving restaurants, and the relaxed laws about where booze can be sold (including grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.), there is alcohol to be had. But the relaxed comraderie of a bar is nowhere to be found.

    • We invite you to move here, you will be welcomed with open arms and a Brandy old fashioned (or hot tottie if its Christmas time).

      A large portion of the population is German(like myself) or Polish. Up north where I grew up many of the towns are still strongly held to their heritage. When I visit back home I can still catch Mass in German if I feel like getting up at 7:30 :)

      • I’ll drink to that! Most bars hold 20-30 people seated. But pack them in tight. Friday and Saturday nights. Then the pool, dart, bowling teams fill in the week in winter with softball, kickball, trap shooting, volleyball in the summer. Everything is open till 2:30am all year long. But NewYears Eve. Then they close for an hour and reopen. This is usually 4 or 5am. Oh did any one mention you can eat breakfast at some of these bars and start the day out rolling dice and drinking Bloody Mary’s with a beer chaser for $3.50 ymmm….

  • My first “legal” drink was at a community softball park where beer is served right out in the open, without bouncers or beer gardens. God bless Wisconsin!!!

  • Clearly there are problems with the algorithm used to generate this map. This is evidenced by the fact that there appear to be areas within the state of Wisconsin that are not red. I assure you, there are no locals within our borders where grocery stores outnumber bars…

  • In Appleton, there are close to 60 places (bars/eating establishments) within a mile on College Avenue. Anyone that has been to Octoberfest (yes, that is how we spell it) can attest to that. But all grocery stores (Copps, Pick N Save, Woodmans, Wally world) are a few miles out.

  • I moved from Wisconsin years ago but I can still drink most people under the table. There are absolutely more bars than grocery stores, but the bars are corner bars, and people come in with their kids, they play cards and socialize. They eat and hang out, pull each other out of the snow, watch the Packers, etc.

    • I’ve lived in Madison WI for close to 10 years. i can think of 2 woodmans, 3 or 4 copps, and a couple cub grocery stores. I can think of probably 30-40 bars…. and those are just the ones i go to. One of the latest fun things to do while at the bar is to go do TeamTrivia. My coworkers and I play just about every/every-other night, and that has been our tradition for the past year or so now. I’ve been to a few bars in other states… people just seem colder when you get out of the midwest… around here you can walk up, talk to people, shoot the shit and people respond well to it, other areas seem to really be taken aback by it.

  • I grew up in WI. The heaviest of states. Where. Went to college, there was 1 bar for every 3. People when school was in session. All we did was drink.

  • Being from Wisconsin…If a building has a roof on it, it’s been converted to a tavern. Running these dumps appears to be a second/third career for many residents. Buy an old building or convert your home…a few neon signs, pool table and dart board…and spend the rest of your days getting lit with your drinking buddies. I guess it doesn’t sound so bad. :)

    • I’m sure they did not consider the Rec rooms many of us have in the basement with a pool table, dart board and yes a full stocked bar at all times!

  • You know you’re in Wisconsin if you get to an unincorporated community — no grocery stores, no post office, perhaps a church and at least 4-5 taverns/bars.

  • Wishconshin alsho haz more cars than groshery shtores( HIC) an’ it sheems we ain’t afraid to drive ’em drunk either, hey. (HIC)

  • Frank Burns March 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Becky, you must live in Albany. The Black Hole of Green County. Amateurs should not go there to drink, they can’t find their way out.

  • Trenton Ashby March 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    why would you think that people form the great state of Wisconsin would have a lot of typos? Wisconsin is one of the greatest states in America. Don’t act like an asshole towards Wisconsinites because we can accidentally drink you under the table. You think we are all drunks, but what about the plethora of actors and comedians that my state gave you. What is wrong with you people that you have to pick on Wisconsin. I want to see each and every single one of you pompous assholes spend a winter out here. I doubt you would be able too. your all too soft. Pansy is the word that comes to mind. We aren’t drunks, we enjoy a drink with a friend. Furthermore I also know that by speaking badly of the state of Wisconsin, you have no clue what the state is really like. Learn more about the places you are going to talk shit about and good day.

  • Yup, we grew up in Wisconny. Drinking age was 18 – open bar at the prom! We still vacation in long lake WI. There is one local general store…..and 5 bars. Quite interesting…….

    We will deal with the socialism just fine…..

  • I’ve lived in WI all my life, and there’s no other state that I’d rather call home. People who live outside of WI, look at maps like this and see guys at Packer games with no shirts in -20 degree weather and stereotype us. Lets not forget that Marquette and UW-Madison have great reputations for their academic programs. Yes, we like to drink, but we are very sociable and friendly-not to mention responsible. To JoanPK-I agree with Dave and we don’t need the likes of you ruining it for the rest of us. Good riddance!

  • Another stat that backs up Wisconsin’s #1 status as the biggest drinking state in the US. We also lead in drunk driving, most bars per capita , and several other categories. We also lead in denial however there are some indications that is beginning to change somewhat. Another factor in the equation is the Wisconsin Tavern League which is very powerful in keeping the beer and liquor laws in check through a dozen lobbyists so it won’t hurt business. The Wisconsin tax on beer barrels hasn’t been raised since the 60″s. Have you walked down Regent Street prior to an 11:00 Wisconsin football game?

  • from wi east side. my town of 50K has as most know has a lot of bars in a small area in down town.Brewerys reg. and micro. If that isn`t enough, you can drive out of the down town area and find a supermarket, or kwiktrip to get all the beer you want.It`s Great

  • I moved from Minnesota to Wisconsin because of this. 10,000 bars trumps 10,000 lakes.

  • As a Wisconsinite who’s done some traveling, my bet is that the map isn’t an accurate measure because it doesn’t include all the “private clubs” that are so popular in “dry” parts of the country, nor all the American Legion and VFW clubs – which enjoy a much better attendance in southern and western states in general. On the other hand, ‘way back in the 60’s my home town was mentioned specifically in a history book about the roaring twenties because there was then one bar for every 100 people. And, in the 1969 Playboy issue about the best party schools, they put in a footnote why they didn’t list U.Wis. Madison because they only were including the “amateurs”.

  • As a bar owner for over 10 years and secretary of our local tavern league, it is legal to drink but you must be at least 12 (new law) and be with a parent or guardian or a spouse of legal drinking age.
    The bar has a choice of whether to serve these individuals. We never served minors.

  • Yeah, grocerie stores in ND dont sell alcohol, its illegal. The drinking thing under 18 aslong as your parents give it to you is also legal here. General rule of thumb here is 1 grocery store to 10 churches 2 bars to every church. :P

  • Oh yes, how the midwest drinks… <3

    I'm from minnesota myself, and I'll be damned if you people living on the coasts think you can drink. I once partied on the east coast with a guy who thought it was impressive to drink a 750ml of rum in a week…. two days should be the max on that, and even that may be pushing it. Unless of course you're taking it easy. You may also notice that I am spelling, and grammar error free.

    You can keep your Sax 5th avenue, and dolci glasses. I'll buy new ones at walmart next week after I've smashed mine because of my love affair with Captain Morgan.

    You can count the calories in your sex on the beach while my beer gut takes home the pathetic excuse for a man you dragged along to teach him the meaning of a real good time. That is if he can handle that shot of Jim Beam…

    I don't cook, I don't clean, and I'll be in the bleachers come Sunday's football game, but until you can take a sobriety test after 8 drinks, and still pass it we're not going to get along so well, and the only reason I won't throw my cosmo in your face is because I'd miss the alcohol… let's wait until I am drunk enough to not remember where these bruises came from, and then I'll spill it on your juicy couture purse

    Cheers =P

  • Having been raised in Wisconsin, I find it hard to believe the RULE’s when drinking out of state. No beer on the beach ? What? No beer in public. What? Amazing to me. Church festivals here are in parking lots and in the streets. Beer, music, food and bingo. This also is true when it comes to town parties, block parties, fund raisers. I live in the country 45 min from Milwaukee, and our town (population 2200 or so) has 6 taverns and gas station selling beer and booze. But we have two churches! No grocery store though.

    • I often Joke to out of state people. “There is a state law that stated ‘To be a town in Wisconsin you have to have a tavern and a church’ but the chuch is optional”

      Don’t believe? Come visit

    • This is so true. I started traveling a lot for work about a 2 years ago. I was a little shocked walking into grocery stores and gas stations to find no beer or booze. Now when I get to the hotel I typically ask at the desk what the rules are for drinking.

      I tell you what, its strange to have last call come at midnight, or have to find a state ran liquored store to get some booze at. In NJ I went to a whole foods looking for some beer and the lady told me that in the state of NJ a business can only hold 2 liquor licenses. This surprised me a little, but it is good I guess. Its designed to prevent large chains from monopolizing all the business.

      • Last all for carry out at the bar is Midnight. nothing like taking home a night cap at 11:45pm

  • Where I grew up, in Tomahawk, WI we have 2 grocery stores, about 12 church’s, and about 30 bars. I now live and work in Madison WI and definitely find it strange that so many places have more grocery stores than bars…I would have guessed that for the most part that it would have been the other way around. I travel a lot for work, although I’m usually in big cities, and never have a hard time finding a bar near my hotel.

  • [pwnr]reesanator March 29, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    GO WISCONSIN hell yeah

  • bu if you notice all the concentrated areas with red dots have the toughest winters. Gotta stay warm somehow

  • yeah it is pretty much just that we like to drink… have a good time… and also the fact that there are really no large cities in the Midwest so there only needs to be one or two grocery stores and well… i am yet to see a town with only 1 bar…

  • Wisconsin rules!

  • Yeah well being from Wisconsin it is really important for me to keep our image rightly intact. Sorry for the short note, I need to get to the local tavern and get my Tuesday drunk on. Thank god I feel better now after last nights booze fest.

  • How did you get the data for this map? Why would any town need a high number of grocery stores? Seems to me any state I have traveled to has a higher proportion of bars to grocery stores. The data results don’t seem realistic. Cheers!

  • You won’t have any problem finding a tavern in northern Wisconsin; ads and directions are on every snowmobile trail. Wisconsin’s taverns and/or bars also have great food. Don’t bother looking for the nutritional contents, just enjoy it.

  • I’ll Drink To That!

  • I’ll Drink To That

  • “I expect your comments to filled with typos.” Really Michael? You are more ignorant than the fat ass cheese heads in Wisconsin. Get your shit together and come up with a real story and stop trying to put down the great people of the midwest. Get a real job

    • Bonnie Jean April 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      Ha ha! That’s funny! A serious indignant Minnesotan. Or that is what is sounds like.

  • there is no way in hell there are more grocery stores then bars in vegas!!!

  • You Cheese heads only think you know how to drink. The real spot is up here in Alaska we consider alcohol groceries and the bars are the best place to get em. No booze sold at the store so no one goes there. Bars close at 5 am and open at 6am.

  • I’m not really shocked that Wisconsin is so red. Where I live, the population is around 24K. We have 2 grocery stores, and there are well over 20 bars. I’m not even sure how many bars there are in the surrounding townships and rural areas.

  • I can confirm More bars than grocery stores! Every city I have lived, in wisconsin, the bars out numbered the stores by at least 10 to 1!!

  • Bonnie Jean April 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Funny how it looks more like a Beer Backbone or Beer Ribcage than a Belly.

  • Bonnie Jean April 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Hey, can we get an enlargement of that map so I can see Central NY?

  • If anyone needs an example of how important, and ubiquitous drinking is in WI, look no further than the independent documentary called, AMERICAN MOVIE (1999). It’s about a guy, bent on making this low-budget horror movie in order to fund another low-budget horror movie, but basically, you will develop a sense of just how important drinking is in Wisconsin culture.
    Go rent it.

  • My friends Harry, George, Bob, Susan and dozens of others are heavy drinkers in Wisconsin.
    None of them have cirrhosis.

  • I’m from Wisconsin, and it’s just that we drink a lot. We consider ourselves professional drinkers, haha! Drinking is very much a part of the culture in Wisconsin, which is why our state is covered in red on this map :) We invite everyone to come join us sometime for a round of beer pong and some other great drinking games!

  • As a resident of Wisconsin, I can attest to the veracity of the above map. There are eleven bars in my immediate neighborhood – all at a closer distance to my house than the grocery stores are, which number at 2.

    Some points of interest: bartenders here in Wisconsin are permitted to drink with their patrons while working.

    Beer for breakfast at a bar is available here,

    Neighboring La Crosse thought they had a mass murderer because young white men were mysteriously disappearing after a night of drinking at the plethora of bars in its downtown area. Turns out, the men were stumbling drunkenly in the dark and each one of them had fallen into the Mississippi River. As a complete change of topic – or maybe it brings to light the problems of a drinking community – one would think the town would have put up some kind of barrier in general to prevent people from falling into the river and drowning.

    Drunk driving is the norm here – it’s not too surprising to run into a drunk driver as it is very common.

  • In Wisconsin they drink sociably in bars in many other states they drink at home.