Mexicans are known for enjoying both beer and tequila, two iconic alcoholic drinks associated with the country’s culture. But which do Mexicans actually consume more of? After looking at consumption statistics and cultural attitudes, it appears that beer is the clear favorite nationally, though tequila holds an important place as well.
Mexicans drink far more beer than tequila overall. In 2020, Mexico was the world’s largest consumer of beer, drinking over 8.2 billion liters. Tequila consumption was much lower at 278 million liters. Per capita, Mexicans drank an average of 61 liters of beer compared to 2 liters of tequila.
Beer Consumption in Mexico
Beer is hugely popular in Mexico and has been for decades. After prohibition ended in the 1920s, commercial breweries took off and beer became the working man’s drink. By 1970, over a billion liters were being consumed annually nationwide. Beer consumption really took off in the 1990s and 2000s as more international and craft brands entered the market. By 2010, consumption had doubled to over 5 billion liters per year.
Today, the average Mexican drinks 61 liters of beer per year, more than Americans or Germans. In total, Mexico drinks over 8.2 billion liters annually, making it the world’s largest consumer of beer. Brands like Corona, Victoria, and Modelo Especial are enjoyed nationwide. Beer is available everywhere from stores to stadiums to holiday gatherings.
Beer is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture today. It’s a staple at sporting events, barbecues, and nights out. The hot climate also makes cold beer refreshing. For many households, keeping the refrigerator stocked with beers is essential.
Beer ads frequently appear on billboards and television promoting beer as an essential part of fun with friends and family. Major brands sponsor sports teams and music events. Drinking beer is seen as a social activity for all classes and backgrounds.
Tequila Consumption in Mexico
While less than beer, tequila has an iconic status in Mexico. Production is centered in the state of Jalisco where the blue agave plant used to make tequila grows. By law, tequila can only be produced in certain regions.
In 2020, Mexico produced 278 million liters of tequila. This was double the production from a decade earlier. The tequila industry has worked hard to expand the drink’s reputation beyond just a party shot, promoting high-end and artisanal brands. This has helped raise consumption both in Mexico and abroad.
Tequila has a more complex cultural legacy in Mexico compared to beer. It is strongly associated with celebrations and pride in Mexican identity. But taking too many shots also has a reputation for leading to reckless behavior.
Traditional tequila production is seen as an art form and point of national pride. Tequila has a denomination of origin like champagne in France. Small batch tequilas from old distilleries are prized. Tequila is traditionally drank straight as a shot with lime and salt.
Drinking tequila is mandatory at Mexican celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and Independence Day. It’s common to see politicians and celebrities taking a symbolic shot. Tourists also flock to tequila country to visit distilleries.
Yet tequila’s party image still lingers, sometimes seen as a drink for the working class or those looking to get drunk quickly. As more high-end brands emerge, this reputation is fading. But it still impacts consumption patterns.
Beer vs. Tequila Consumption
When comparing consumption, beer is clearly favored by a wide margin. Here are some key comparisons:
- Mexicans consumed 8.2 billion liters of beer vs. 278 million liters of tequila in 2020.
- Per capita consumption was 61 liters of beer and 2 liters of tequila.
- Beer makes up 83% of alcohol consumption in Mexico compared to 4% for tequila.
- 99% of Mexican households purchase beer vs. only 7% for tequila.
Beer’s affordability and widespread availability fuels its popularity. A single serving of beer at a bar may cost $1-2 USD versus $3-5 USD for a shot of tequila. For most families, keeping the fridge stocked with beer for everyday drinking is more economical.
There are some regional differences in consumption patterns across Mexico:
- Beer consumption is highest in the North and Central regions.
- Tequila consumption is concentrated in the west in Jalisco state.
- Wealthier households drink more tequila on average.
- Rural areas drink more beer over tequila.
But beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage nationwide across income levels and regions.
Both tequila and beer hold cultural significance in Mexico but in different ways:
- Seen as an everyday drink for family meals, parties, and relaxing.
- Major brands like Corona are Mexican icons.
- Sporting events and concerts are closely promoted with beer.
- Drinking beer is functional but also social.
- Strongly tied to Mexican identity, tradition, and pride.
- High-end tequilas are boutique, like fine wine.
- A cultural practice at weddings, birthdays, Independence Day, etc.
- Has a party reputation but also used to celebrate special occasions.
While tequila has iconic status, beer is arguably more ingrained in daily life and routines for most Mexicans. They accompany meals, social gatherings, and relaxation time.
The heavy consumption of alcohol in Mexico also raises public health concerns. Here are some considerations:
- Over 20% of male deaths in Mexico are alcohol-related.
- Cirrhosis death rates have doubled over the past decade.
- Drunk driving remains a major issue, especially around holidays.
- Binge drinking culture can encourage excess.
However, lower alcohol content and smaller serving sizes make beer somewhat safer than tequila in terms of overconsumption. Most standard Mexican lagers are 4-5% alcohol versus tequila’s 35-40%. However, both should be enjoyed in moderation.
Taxation and Regulation
Alcohol taxation also differs between beer and spirits like tequila in Mexico:
- Beer is taxed at 26.5% of price vs. 53% for tequila.
- Some states add additional alcohol taxes.
- Minimum drinking age is 18 for beer and 21 for tequila.
- No current proposals to raise beer taxes to deter consumption.
Cheaper taxes help keep beer affordable and widely available. But public health advocates believe higher beer taxes could help reduce harmful drinking.
Looking ahead, beer will likely remain Mexico’s most popular alcoholic beverage given the strong drinking culture. However, tequila’s prospects are strong as higher-end brands boost exports and visibility worldwide. We may see rising tequila consumption among higher income Mexicans in major cities as well.
Overall beer appears entrenched as Mexico’s drink of choice, accompanying family meals, parties, and sporting events nationwide. Tequila has prestige but its consumption remains centered regionally and tied to celebrations and pride in Mexican cultural identity.
When comparing beer vs. tequila consumption in Mexico, beer is clearly the everyday favorite while tequila occupies more specialized cultural roles. Mexicans drink over 30 times more beer than tequila by volume. Affordability and widespread availability fuel beer’s dominance at all socioeconomic levels. While tequila is iconic culturally, beer is more ingrained in daily routines and social life across Mexico. However, both hold importance as Mexican drinks, just in different ways.