Deeds: Let’s drink up data about Idaho liquor sales

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comJuly 26, 2013 

Ouch. Numbers make my head hurt.

The Idaho State Liquor Division’s annual bar-sales report feels like a 28-page hangover, except without the shenanigans the night before. Yet, much like that second pour of Don Julio blanco, it’s always worth it. There’s something inherently fun about turning the Treasure Valley bar scene into a competition.

The report for fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, specifies how much money bars spent on liquor and how many bottles they purchased. And for the second consecutive year, the Valley’s king of the hard-alcohol buyers by dollar is … Barbacoa restaurant.

Barbacoa spent $277,612 on 13,968 bottles of booze. When you consider the typical bar mark-up on cocktails — 11 zillion percent or so — that’s a tidy little profit.

Wow, Boise. What a boring bunch of drinkers you are. All three of the top bars are the same as last year. After that, the Top 10 shuffled around a bit, although it’s mostly the same players:

1. Barbacoa; 2. China Blue/Dirty Little Roddy’s, $226,884, 13,240 bottles; 3. Main Street Bistro, $178,595, 11,510 bottles; 4. The Matador, $156,788, 8,664 bottles; 5. Reef/Brickyard, $145,482, 8,698 bottles; 6. Hannah’s, $132,734, 8,331 bottles; 7. Tom Grainey’s/Basement, $126,880, 8,486 bottles; 8. Cactus Bar, $124,583, 13,456 bottles; 9. Knitting Factory, $123,933, 7,836 bottles; 10. Bittercreek Alehouse/Red Feather Lounge, $121,082, 6,895 bottles.

You can check out the state’s entire bar-sales report on my blog.

Other interesting nuggets about liquor in Idaho ...

• The explosive growth of Boise breweries and brewpubs is not hurting liquor sales.

State liquor sales to bars in Boise was up 3.5 percent over the prior year. Sales at liquor stores was up 7.2 percent. With the exception of stores near the Washington border, Boise is experiencing the best retail growth in Idaho, says Tony Faraca, deputy director of finance and human resources at the Idaho State Liquor Division. Boise also is showing the best bar-sales growth.

• Bigger liquor-sales numbers means it’s economic party time!

“I think that points to Boise being out in front of the economic recovery relative to other areas of the state,” Faraca says. “Growth is modest statewide right now, but the city of Boise is demonstrating better-than-average numbers.”

(What? You didn’t know that the economy can be predicted by drinkers?)

• The most popular retailer in the state is the new, warehouse-style liquor store at State Line.

Privatization of liquor stores in Washington made prices skyrocket, so Washingtonians are running across the border for their hooch.

• Although Barbacoa was No. 1 among bars in the Treasure Valley, it didn’t come close to Coeur d’Alene Resort, which was Idaho’s top spender with a state-record $366,113.

• Last year’s statewide No. 2, Sun Valley Lodge, dropped like a skier off a cliff. It dove from $306,940 in 2012 to $203,200.

Talk about a bad snow year.


• It’s possible that Boise Music Festival attendance might be, um, hindered this year.

It certainly won’t be helped by cancellations from rock band Hinder and DJ Pauly D. Still, expect a massive audience. Details, 14.

• Concert news: Are hipsters turning their sights to country music? Shooter Jennings will perform at Neurolux on July 31. ... Rapper Dizzy Wright will headline Sept. 20 at the Revolution Center. ... Dance purveyors Krewella, Seven Lions and Candyland will perform Oct. 10 at the Revolution Center. ... Of the two Friday-night local-band shows I wrote about last week, Fly2Void drew the much bigger crowd, with 737 fans at the Knitting Factory. But that fact doesn’t top the busload of female impersonators (and their attendants) that barged into the Methods of Dance concert at Visual Arts Collective. Their flamboyant, mid-show party crash affected the atmosphere like Mentos and a two-liter bottle of Coke.

• With backing from the NAACP, the Soul Food Extravaganza plans to return to Julia Davis Park in 2014. The financially troubled event was nixed this summer after two decades. Let’s hope organizers reconnect with its original soul.

Michael Deeds’ column appears Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM “The River.”

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