The Booze:

Much cheaper than Australia.  You can buy a six-pack of domestic beer for under $5.  Probably about 30% less than Australia after you convert the currency.  I know their beer gets a bad press, but it’s really not too bad.  Apart from the mainstream beers like Budweiser, Miller etc there is a wide variety to choose from, including some lesser-known regional brands that are nice.  Also, many Mexican or Canadian brands are readily available.


The beers on offer don’t all seem to be very low alcohol content, as American beer is reputed to be. Some are 5% or so – I think it was ‘Budweiser Dry’ that I tried which has an alcohol content well over 5%.  ‘Light’ beer in the States means low calorie (and now low carbs), as opposed to indicating a lower alcohol content as it does at home.

The really good news is ‘spirits’.  (I think the term ‘liquor’ applies only to spirits in the States, although it seems to be used for booze of any type at home).  We like bourbon and can buy a bottle of Jim Beam for $12.  That's definitely a bargain – probably half-price once taxes are added and conversion done into AUD. Johnny Walker Red was much more - $25 US. I haven't bought Scotch in Australia recently so I have no idea how that compares. There were many cheaper Scotches on offer.

As for wine, there is a large variety of Australian wine on offer.  ‘Yellowtail’ seems to be especially popular.  Most liquor stores seem to have a ‘downunder’ section (often includes some NZ wines). In many cases it is something we are familiar with back home and actually works out cheaper here!   Some of the Californian brands are also fine, although some are not too good.  They also have Chilean wines, which can be OK -  I think the one we had recently and quite enjoyed was a Merlot.


Cardboard ‘casks’ are almost unknown, but what they do have is the large 1.5 litre bottles.  If you’re looking for a cheap drink, you can find the 1.5 litre bottles from about $12 or so – not the greatest drop, but drinkable.  Many brands of wine can be bought this way, as well as in the normal 750ML bottle. 


Drinking in bars you do need to tip the bar staff.  This can be done with each drink or at the end of the session.  If you’re going to have a few, it’s often convenient to start a tab with them (using your credit card).  That way, you just pay with the credit card at the end of the night and add the tip then, rather than paying it with each drink.

A helpful feature (and this is not just for booze) is that where there is more than one size of a product on offer, the store will include on the shelf price-tag an indication of the price per ounce (for example), so you can work out the most cost-effective package size.

They have some bizarre liquor laws in the South.  For example, in Tennessee

a  'Liquor Store' may sell wine and spirits, but not beer.  For that, I was directed to the gas station next door!  Almost all gas stations in any state sell beer, sometimes wine as well, but never spirits.


Supermarkets will almost always sell beer and wine but in some states

(including Florida) not spirits.  In places such as Arkansas you cannot buy alcohol on Sunday, except in a restaurant.  There they still have 'dry counties' in which alcohol may not be sold at all, although you are allowed to drink it in your home if you buy it elsewhere.


Our young friends from Arkansas also told us that in counties where alcohol is allowed to be sold, the churches will sometimes raise funds to buy up the limited number of liquor licences that are granted.  They just sit on the liquor licence and, if successful enough, can render the county effectively 'dry', although not legally so.

Despite these eccentricities, it must be conceded that overall their liquor laws

are more liberal than ours, especially the most antiquated in Australia which

are in NSW. Apart from the bible belt, the main differences are the very easy

access to beer and wine, and the different treatment of spirits ('liquor'), which I remember was also the case in Canada.