MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - More people are doing more wining when out dining these days.
According to Technomic's 2012 BarTAB report, restaurant alcohol beverage sales reached $93 billion in 2011.
Restaurant industry experts say it's an improving economy that has more diners choosing to booze while they eat.
The nationwide restaurant report shows sales were up nearly 5 % in 2011 and is predicted to continue to climb in 2012 and 2013. The reports attributes it to better consumer confidence. More people are willing to spend money on what many may say is as an indulgence.
This is good news for the local restaurant business owners who say more alcohol sales means a better bottom line. Alcohol sales usually generate higher profit margins for restaurants when compared to food sales.
Owner of local seafood restaurant Mr. Fish, Ted Hammerman said, "Any percentage, net you put on the bottom line, it's a wonderful thing. Especially considering everything else is going up between utility and food costs."
It's a plus for the companies who supply the alcohol to area restaurants.
David Owens, owner of Owens liquor said, "Wholesale sales have been really good. The bar and restaurants have had a really good year."
Owens also says he's noticed restaurants are starting to buy higher quality wines and liquors to serve.
The study also shows that more people are choosing where to dine based on a restaurant's drink selection. Beer seems to be the most popular alcoholic beverage and restaurants are taking it up a notch and offering unique choices, like craft beers.
Sales for craft beers were up 11% in 2011 and industry experts say it has to do with diners looking for new and complex flavors with their drinks.
Brock Kurtzman operates New South Brewery in Myrtle Beach.
He distributes his micro brews to about a dozen local restaurants and says he's noticed a lot more restaurants in the area warming up to the craft beer trend.
"Five years ago, if you would've told me there would be three restaurants that had more than 30 beers, I would've laughed. But now, places like Crafty Rooster and the Mellow Mushroom, I mean there's just so many more restaurants out there that are giving their patrons different options," said Kurtzman.