Most of America’s Drunkest Cities are in Wisconsin

12 of the top 20 “drunkest cities in America” are in the state of Wisconsin, with Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis ranking 17th.

Wisconsin made its presence known on new list ranking the top 20 drunkest cities in America.

The list was published over the weekend, when many Wisconsinites were perhaps under the influence, so the 24/7 Wall Street ranking of both the drunkest and driest cities in America didn’t start making the rounds on social media until a few days after its initial publication. Nevertheless, as is often the case with these types of rankings, cities from the Badger State were high on the list, with 12 of the top 20.

1. Appleton
2. Oshkosh-Neenah
3. Green Bay
4. Madison
5. Fargo, North Dakota
6. La Crosse – Onalaska
7. Fond du Lac
8. Ames, Iowa
9. Eau Claire
10. Mankato-North Mankato, Minnesota
11. Wausau
12. Sheboygan
13. Missoula, Montana
14. Grand Forks, North Dakota
15. Racine
16. Janesville-Beloit
17. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis
18. Lincoln, Nebraska
19. Iowa City, Iowa
20. Corvallis, Oregon

For each of these cities, the report lists four metrics:

  • Percent of adults drinking to excess
  • Percent of driving deaths involving alcohol
  • Premature death rate
  • Median household income

Here’s how data was collected, according to the report:

“To identify the drunkest and least drunk cities in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed self-reported binge and heavy drinking rates among adults in U.S. metro areas from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program.

Excessive drinking can take the form of binge drinking or heavy drinking. The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men during a single sitting. Heavy drinking is defined as some 15 or more drinks consumed per week for men and eight or more drinks for women.”

Of particular concern for many Wisconsin cities is the high rate of drunk driving:

Drunk driving accounts for 31.0% of roadway fatalities nationwide. In many of the cities with the highest excessive drinking rates, the share of deadly car accidents attributable to alcohol is far higher. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, for example, a city where over a quarter of adults drink excessively, 47.5% of fatal car accidents involve alcohol, the seventh highest share in the country.

Another notable bit from the report pertaining largely to Wisconsin is the number of bars per capita.

There are an average of 1.6 bars for every 10,000 residents across the metro areas examined. With the exception of Corvallis, Oregon, each of the 20 cities with the highest excessive drinking rates has at least that many bars per capita. The Lacrosse-Onalaska metro area, parts of which are in Wisconsin and Minnesota, is the city with the sixth highest excessive drinking rate. The region has 6.9 bars for every 10,000 residents, more than any other U.S. metro area.



Dan Shafer was the digital editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Dan joined the magazine as assistant editor in 2014 and wrote the November 2014 cover story, "Downtown Horizons." He's worked as a reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee and an editor at ThirdCoast Digest. Contact him at He's on Twitter @danshaferMKE.