Bottoms up: Casper liquor trends shift in era of social distancing - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Bottoms up: Casper liquor trends shift in era of social distancing


CASPER, Wyo. – There once was a time in a not-too-distant past when people would leave their homes to enjoy alcoholic beverages among crowds and friends at local bars and restaurants.

That was sooo three weeks ago, and now the “quarantini” is the hottest new drinking trend.

With a state-mandated limit of 10 or fewer people in one room to help slow the spread of COVID-19, people are imbibing elsewhere. Mainly in their homes.

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Zac Atkinson of Western Beverage, which distributes major beer brands for Molson Coors Constellation and a number of craft brands, says they’re struggling to keep the most popular suds in stock.

“Fourth of July is our biggest week of the year, and right now we’re pretty much putting up those kind of sales in the beginning of April,” he said.

“Obviously we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this or know what to expect, so we didn’t have inventory built up like we would going in to Fourth of July.”

Atkinson says cases of Coors Light have been in shortest supply, particularly early on in the pandemic as people tended to stock up. He says by this weekend he expects to be caught up on stock.

Atkinson says craft beer sales are trending up as well, which he attributes to the closures of tap rooms and restaurants where quality beers are often sold. He’s heard from some craft beer makers in Colorado that their sales are reportedly robust.

Another big seller is White Claw, which has taken up a large share of the hard seltzer market in the past couple of years.

“I don’t know if it’s all the soccer moms staying home and trying to stay sane while homeschooling their kids, but seltzers are crushing it,” he said.

He says it’s hard to judge trends this early on, but so far at-home sales have more than made up for the complete loss of restaurant sales.

Poplar Wine & Spirits owner Mike Reid says sales have been steady since the start of the crisis, but some trends have shifted.

Reid says most people who buy cases of beer and boxes of wine tend to do so at grocery stores.

“When people are making that one-time stop, especially when they’re panic buying, I know their sales have popped up,” he said.

For his business, the higher end products are moving faster than before.

“We’ve seen people trade up from lower-price to higher-price,” he said. “The really good bourbons are hard to get right now, and we sell them as quickly as we get them in.”

At CY Discount Liquor, manager Phil Carlson says he’s seen a 30 percent surge in business, mostly at its drive-up window.

Carlson also saw a panic rush when the new health orders were mandated, which has turned into steady stream of customers throughout the day.

“There doesn’t seem to be one particular thing people are buying, they just seem to have more time on their hands,” he said, noting that people tend to buy more of their usual at once.

He’s also noticed some people choosing budget brands as layoffs and furloughs take hold.

The Backdoor Lounge is attached to the package liquor store, and like other bars it closed last month.

Profits are higher at bars, so Carlson says they’re at a break-even point but have avoided layoffs.

Amid all the fear and uncertainty, one thing has remained constant. Liquor stores are seen as “essential businesses.”

“I think people were panicked at first because they thought liquor stores were going to be shut down, but that’s not going to be the case,” said Reid.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.