24.8.06

EIN PROSIT. Division of Labour's Craig Depken is a bit skeptical of the latest "Places Rated," this a Forbes survey of drunkenness. The top five cities: Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, OH, Boston, Austin, TX. Four capital cities that are also home to major universities, and a city whose Brewers play in Miller Park. To be sure, this is a censored sample.

To determine the rankings, we started with a list of the largest metropolitan areas in the continental U.S. Thirty-five candidate cities were chosen based on availability of data and geographic diversity.

Each city was ranked in five areas: state laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholism. Each area was assigned a ranking in each category, based on quantitative data, and all five categories were then totaled to produce a final score, which was sorted to produce our rankings. ( Click here for the complete methodology.)

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel coverage notes that residents have reason to be skeptical of such surveys.

Residents may be quick to dismiss such rankings based on other awards the city's seen - from fifth Fittest City in America by Men's Fitness magazine in January to 17th Best City for Singles by Forbes last month.

But Milwaukee does have other undeniable drinking statistics. In the city of Milwaukee, there are more than 1,000 outlets for beer, wine and liquor, according to the city's License Division. These include about 978 locations with Class B tavern licenses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Milwaukee in 2002 had 261 taverns and 67 liquor stores. Those 328 businesses generated more than $148 million in sales, or about $250 for every man, woman and child who lived in the city that year. And that doesn't include alcohol that was sold at grocery stores, gas stations or restaurants.

The proliferation of taverns is for real. Do your own research. Go to Thirteenth and Becher, behind the old Mitchell Street Sears. Go west on Becher. Count the taverns on the street corners between Thirteenth and Sixtieth. (Many of them are five-stoolers with a collection of softball and bowling trophies behind the bar. Use your own judgement about stopping to sample.) Go north on Sixtieth, which becomes Hawley Road, to Greenfield Avenue. Keep counting. (Some of your count will be in West Allis and West Milwaukee. Small detail.) Go east on Greenfield to First. Now that you've finished your count, find a Walker's Point watering hole to your liking and toast your efforts. Na zdorovje!

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