The sobering economy is making consumers enjoy a drink at home rather than get happy at the neighborhood bar. Drinkers are also finding pleasure in cheaper brands.

New data released by the Distilled Council Spirits of the U.S. show a 2.2 % volume growth in retail liquor sales in 2009, but alcohol business in restaurants, bars, hotels and nightclubs slipped 3%. Overall, the amount of liquor sold by suppliers was up 1.4%,but that's hardly comforting considering it's the tiniest bump since 2001.

So don't feel badly if your wallet is allowing you to buy spirits that are mostly preferred by college students. You have company in fellow Americans.

Tequila led the race with a 5.2% rise in volume, followed by vodka at 4.9 %. Heavyweight brands such as the mighty Grey Goose, owned by Bacardi, hit the bottom, slipping 5.1%. The reigning lines were lowest-priced brands such as Popov, which grew the fastest with volume rising 5.5%.

Industry folks are a tad concerned about the data findings. Distilled Spirits Council CEO Peter Cressy said in a release that policy makers should refrain from raising alcohol taxes.

"Restaurants and bars have closed in every city and town in the nation during the recession," Cressy said. "Policy makers should not compound the damage and threaten the recovery by raising hospitality taxes."

The tipping question now is if consumers will embrace the pricier brands once the economy returns back to normal.

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