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March 28, 2024


To booze or not to booze: Europe's top alcohol-ready countries

SharpGrid Research Team

To booze or not to booze, that is the question.

Most European countries might be a part of the European union, but their lifestyles differ greatly, particularly when it comes to alcohol. Outlet Census Live data show some interesting variations in the percentage of outlets that offer alcohol on premise ( = on the menu) which speaks volumes about each country’s attitude towards booze, namely how easily accessible it is in pubs, bars or restaurants.

Time-limited event: Try a free demo of our Outlet Census Live 2.0 on-trade tool. Get your hands on a tool Coca Cola or Heineken are using

If you’re a beverage producer, it might give you a hint which countries have the most potential for you and which to avoid. And if you’re not, you might still want to know which country to visit if you like to have a drink or two on vacation or a business trip. 

The full table, including a correlation with the outlet per capita count, can be found at the end of the article. The results may surprise you and if you’re a beverage producer, offer insights into calculating the potential each country has for alcoholic beverages.

Full chart at the end of the article.

Southern HoReCa: Party on!

Spain, with a whopping 72.33% of its on-trade / HoReCa outlets offering alcohol, leads the Southern European pack. This aligns perfectly with the Spanish culture, where going out for a glass of wine or beer is a daily ritual for many and tapas were originally considered a contraption for covering glass of alcohol from flying insects. It's safe to say that in Spain, you're more likely to find a bar than a place without alcohol.

Next door in Portugal, 77.99% of on-trade / HoReCa outlets offer alcohol. Which is unsurprising given the fact Portugal is home of Port wine and about 50% of the world’s cork production. The Iberian Peninsula indeed loves its drinks!

Italy, the land of la dolce vita, shows a more moderate figure, with 59.35% of on-trade / HoReCa outlets offering alcohol. Given the Italian knack for aperitivo and wine, one might have expected a higher number. But let's face it, who needs a bar when you can enjoy a perfect Negroni at home, right?

Read more: The 15 most popular beverage brands in Italy, Spain, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia

Western & Central HoReCa: Striking a balance

Moving towards Central Europe, Czechia stands out with a remarkable 96% of outlets offering alcohol. If you're a beer lover, Czechia is your paradise. Remember, this is the country that gave us the Pilsner beer, so it's no surprise that they love their beer and aren't shy about sharing it.

Czechia is actually an absolute and undisputed winner on the total European scale, while the second place Slovakia trails by 13%.

In the heart of Europe, we find Germany and France. With 53.74% and 58.76% of outlets offering alcohol, respectively, these two countries strike a balance between the high-alcohol-offering countries like Spain and Portugal, and the more moderate ones like Sweden and Norway.

Eastern & Baltic HoReCa: Party Poland, boring Baltics

Let's not forget about Eastern Europe, where we find Poland with 65.56% of its on-trade / HoReCa outlets offering alcohol. The home of vodka sure knows how to keep the party going! Hungary offers a bit more moderate approach with 50.61%. 

Latvia and Lithuania paint a bleak picture for booze brains with 47,85% and 43,56% respectively, which corresponds with their overall lower outlet-per-capita count as we’ve shown in our comprehensive country comparison prior. The leader of Baltics is Estonia with 55%. 

Northern HoReCa: Lands of the sober

We find a different story up north in Scandinavia. In Sweden, known for its strict alcohol regulations and high prices, only 34.46% of outlets offer alcohol on-premise. This is the lowest figure among the countries surveyed. Swedish outlets often set stricter-than-the-law drinking rules, even setting different age limits for men and women at times. The prices might also make your wallet feel a bit light. No wonder Swedes prefer house parties!

Close by, Norway has a similar scenario with only 35.22% of outlets offering alcohol. Similar to its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden, Norway has strict alcohol regulations. So be prepared to enjoy the stunning fjords and vibrant city life, but maybe not as much booze. Lastly, Denmark, the other Scandinavian country in our list, shows a surprisingly low figure at 46.35%. Maybe the Danes prefer to enjoy their beers at home with their hygge lifestyle?

Does alcohol availability in HoReCa correlate with outlet per capita count? 

It seems alcohol availability does not really correspond with outlet per capita count. While some southern and northern countries display some similarities (high outlet count, high alcohol availability), there are many that don’t.

For example, Czechia and Slovakia have high percentages of outlets offering alcohol (96.00% and 82.65% respectively). However, Czechia has 4.0 outlets per capita, almost double that of Slovakia's 2.2. Portugal and Spain seem to correlate, but then you have Italy trailing 8 other countries in alcohol availability by dozens of % while simultaneously topping the list of outlet per capita count.  

Similarly, Switzerland and Belgium have almost similar percentages of outlets offering alcohol (68.31% and 66.31% respectively). However, their outlets per capita vary a lot, with Switzerland at 2.5 and Belgium at 3.3 - that’s a 24% difference. 

So don’t fall victim to the trap of mistaking high outlet count with high potential for alcohol beverages. The reality might be muddier than you think. The only way to make the picture less muddier is to use precise data like the ones above, sourced from Outlet Census Live.

Data like this can help you make informed decisions about allocating your resources, expanding to other countries or deciding which kind of product you should promote where. This example is quite broad, centered on countries as a whole. But with SharpGrid data, we can help you analyze even the smallest regions like city or district or even create custom regions (that we call Performance Cells).  

If you want to know more, simply let us know. And in the meantime, raise a glass to the European booze culture. As they say, Salud, Skål, Saúde, Prost, Santé or Na zdraví!​

Read more: Europe Uncorked: Which country tops the charts in eating and drinking out?


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