More than 70 percent of adult Milwaukeeans reported that they had at least one alcoholic drink within the past 30 days. That compares with 45 percent in Nashville, Tennessee, which ranked last among the 35 cities on the list.
Forbes said Tuesday it used numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rank cities in five areas: state laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholism.
Minneapolis-St. Paul was ranked second overall; followed by Columbus, Ohio; Boston; Austin, Texas; Chicago; Cleveland; Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia and Providence, R.I., in a tie for ninth.
Surprisingly, some cities considered big partying towns didn't rank that high on the Forbes list. Las Vegas, famous for its all-night bars and casinos, came in at no. 14; New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, ranked only 24th; and New York, the city that never sleeps was 32nd.
Rick DeMeyer, 28, said Wednesday as he was celebrating his birthday at G-Daddy's BBC he could understand Milwaukee's ranking.
"I have had people stay with me from London and Chicago, and they can't get over how much we drink," he said. "I guess we do."
But officials at Visit Milwaukee, the area's convention and visitors bureau, contend that the city has come a long way in ridding itself of its beer-guzzling image.
Milwaukeeans have plenty of other ways to entertain themselves without drinking alcohol, said Dave Fantle, a spokesman for the group. He noted a new convention center and baseball park had been built and the Milwaukee Art Museum expanded in recent years.
"We've gone from Brew City to new city," he said.