These Are The 10 Drunkest Places In Iowa


It’s not the always the biggest cities and towns that are getting ‘Iowa drunk’ the most.

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Depending on how old you are, or where you’re at in life, you might be reading this wearing a somewhat pleased smile, a grimace—recognizing that yes, your hometown is a little too rowdy; or, you might just be too drunk to read this at all. In which case, don’t worry, there are pictures.

But for those of you who aren’t in Manchester, Iowa and seeing double right now, let’s discuss (perhaps over a glass of wine, or a 12-pack), just what makes one place “drunker” than the next.

First, off: the number of places you can actually buy booze. Certainly an important factor in actually getting drunk. Then, the amount of people who actually go around saying things like “Dude I was so tanked last night,” or “How did I wake up in my neighbor’s attic… again?!”

And of course, playing to stereotypes, the divorce rate. Because studies have shown that when one or both partners drink a lot, they are three times more likely to divorce.

Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about our methodology in the next section. First, though, these are the 10 drunkest places in Iowa, according to the research:

  1. Manchester
  2. Cherokee
  3. Clear Lake
  4. Algona
  5. Grinnell
  6. Mount Vernon
  7. Spirit Lake
  8. Davenport
  9. Dubuque
  10. Cedar Rapids

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t you throw your empty beer can at the computer just yet, there, Buster. First off, it’ll damage the computer. Second, there’s actually a method behind this madness.

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How We Determined the Drunkest Places in Iowa

We said it once and we’ll say it again (because really, if you’re as drunk as we think you are, you won’t remember): We didn’t just come up with this list based on our own opinions. No, we used the magic of numbers.

First, we made a list of all of the places in Iowa with populations of 5,000 people or more. Then, we looked at each of these 95 places in terms of these boozy criteria:

  • Number of bars and pubs per capita
  • Number of wineries per capita
  • Number of liquor stores per capita
  • Each city’s drunk-related Tweets within the past week
  • Each city’s divorce rate

Yeah, $#** just got real. But hey—if you’re drinking so much that you’ve ruined your marriage, you’re probably too bleary-eyed to read this anyway.

Once we gathered up our information, we ranked each place with scores from one to 95 in each category. We then averaged each place’s ranking into one overall score, where the lowest scores went to our 10 drunkest places. (Cheers!)

If you care to see how more than just these top 10 ranked, you can wind your way down to the bottom of the post (you should be seeing just one table.) Otherwise, let’s take a look at our top 10 winners!

Or, you can read our breaking news: We have the list of cities in Iowa with the most Ashley Madison accounts. This is the site where people go to cheat on their spouses. Click here to read that one.

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1. Manchester

Population: 5,160
Divorce rate: 18.71%
Bars per capita: 8th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 5th most per capita

Over the past week, Manchester residents have come up with a veritable SNL episode-worth of material in the Twittersphere. Mostly you guys were grumbling about politics, but hey, ain’t nobody got time for that. We’re talking booze.

And apparently, so were many of you. Here are a couple favorites:

“Iowa Hawkeyes for the win. Drinks on me!”

And then one around 2 AM that simply says, “DRUNNNNNNKKKK.”

It’s good you managed to tell us though, anonymous Twitter user. It was a useful update.

No wonder Manchester has the second highest divorce rate in the state.

2. Cherokee

Population: 5,196
Divorce rate: 14.04%
Bars per capita: 10th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 13th most per capita

Hot damn, Cherokee, you’re winning us over already! With more bars per capita than 85 percent of the state and a divorce rate within the top 20 highest, we’re packin’ our bags!

No, just jokes. We’d probably be drinking a lot, too, if our hometown had as many liquor stores per capita. Or as one Twitter user said: “Tornado watch? Time to drink.” Yeah, that’ll help.

3. Clear Lake

Population: 7,765
Divorce rate: 10.58%
Bars per capita: The MOST per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 6th most per capita

With a whopping nine Tweets this past week (pretty high for a relatively small place), Clear Lake residents seem to be doing a lot of #drinking, having a lot of #drinks, and doing a lot of #SundayFunday activities. One Tweeter reported doing them on a Monday… We rest our case.

What can you expect, though, with the absolute highest number of bars per capita and among the 10 highest number of liquor stores per cap in the state?

4. Algona

Population: 5,534
Divorce rate: 12.01%
Bars per capita: 7th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 15th most per capita

Well, Algona, we can’t say we blame you for drinking so much. Check out this lovely Tweet from the week: “Hi I’m Alex I’m a senior journalism major from Algona Iowa and I hate condoms but I love making new friends”

Thanks, Alex! You’ve also cleared up why the divorce rate here is so high!

Aside from that lovely quote, Twitter blew up with Tweets about drinking seven times over the past week. Pretty impressive for a place of just 5,534 residents, don’tcha know?

5. Grinnell

The gang at Prairie Canary, Grinnell, IA. From their Facebook page.

Population: 9,205
Divorce rate: 11.34%
Bars per capita: 20th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 9th most per capita

Okay, we get it. When a good portion of the Twitter activity in your town is devoted to #AgDay and #Dinerfood, we understand why you drink. What else is there to do? Apparently—tweet about it!

(But seriously, the Candyland Station does seem pretty cool.)

6. Mount Vernon

The gang at Chameleons Pub and Grub, Mount Vernon, IA. From their Facebook page.

Population: 4,498
Divorce rate: 7.58%
Bars per capita: 13th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 3rd most per capita

Sure, the divorce rate in Mount Vernon is pretty low, but who says that two drinks can’t live happily together—or at least until the booze run out?

Luckily, in this town, that’s not much of an issue. Not only are there more bars per capita than most places in the state, but Mount Vernon has the third most liquor stores.

PS: According to Twitter, it is illegal to pick a flower from a city park in Mount Vernon, so you know, next time you’re drunk and walking around the park naked, just don’t pick any flowers.

The former part, we’re sure is expected.

7. Spirit Lake

The gang at MUGSHOTZ, Pewaukee, WI. From their Facebook page.

Population: 4,830
Divorce rate: 9.47%
Bars per capita: 8th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: The MOST per capita

Oh c’mon. Spirit Lake? Spirit Lake? The booze are right there in the title! Okay, okay, we’ll level with you guys, you didn’t really have all that many drinky-Tweets this week (a slow week maybe?) You had four that we could find.

But we think you more than make up for that with your number of liquor stores—the highest number per capita in the state, and the eighth most bars to boot!

8. Davenport

Population: 99,781
Divorce rate: 13.33%
Bars per capita: 9th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 30th most per capita

Maybe it’s all the floods, (Davenport is smack dab on the Mississippi River), or maybe it’s just the prospect of having to drive all the way to Chicago or Des Moines for a good time; whatever the reason, Davenport residents sure do seem to love their liquor.

Yes, we know that the number of liquor stores per capita here fall right about in the middle, but perhaps that’s just because residents prefer to get their drink on in the company of others. It has the ninth most bars per capita.

And perhaps, not unexpectedly with a larger population, Davenport residents sure do love to talk about drinking. Over the past week alone, we counted 32 Tweets about drinking coming from this city. Here’s a good one: “Liquor – check.” Keeping it simple.

9. Dubuque

The gang at Mississippi Boon Bar, Dubuque, IA. From their Facebook page.

Population: 57,727
Divorce rate: 10.70%
Bars per capita: 3rd most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 20th most per capita

Sure the 20th most liquor stores doesn’t sound that bad, but remember, we did look at nearly 100 places. Besides, Dubuque has more than enough bars per capita to keep everyone plenty satiated.

While the divorce rate is high, it’s not among the 20 highest. Where Dubuque really seemed to garner its drunk points, was in the Twitterland. There were 51 Tweets coming from Dubuque about drinking over the past week. Here’s our favorite:

“The @realDonaldTrump is in Dubuque today. To celebrate, I’ll drink a beer and spend some time scratching my crotch.”

Hey, can’t argue with that.

10. Cedar Rapids

The Red Baron Bar and Dance Club, Cedar Rapids, IA. From their Facebook page.

Population: 126,921
Divorce rate: 12.10%
Bars per capita: 12th most per capita
Liquor stores per capita: 40th most per capita

Cedar Rapids, taking the keg with a whopping 75 Tweets all about boozin’. Not just any booze will do in this city it seems, Cedar Rapids seem to love their beer. We saw such excellent Tweets as “To the beer cave!”, one saying that Cedar Rapids “smells like a big bowl of dog food and cheap beer” (their words, not ours), and one that simply said “Bring the beer!!!” Priorities.

It’s no surprise, though, when you realize Cedar Rapids has some of the most bars per capita… and one of the higher divorce rates.

Kind of a chicken or the egg situation, eh?

Glass is Half Full

If your hometown was boozy enough to make this list and you’re feeling a little upset, don’t worry. While the numbers and data clearly point to the fact that you guys don’t just drink, but you “drriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink,” we’re still just saying this all in good fun. So buck up.

After all, the glass is always half full.

We also wrote a story on the most redneck cities in Iowa in case you didn’t happen to see it. Click here to read it.

Or, you can read our breaking news: We have the list of cities in Iowa with the most Ashley Madison accounts. This is the site where people go to cheat on their spouses. Click here to read that one

City Population Rank
Manchester 5160 1
Cherokee 5196 2
Clear_Lake 7765 3
Algona 5534 4
Grinnell 9205 5
Mount_Vernon 4498 6
Spirit_Lake 4830 7
Davenport 99781 8
Dubuque 57727 9
Cedar_Rapids 126921 10
Osceola 4948 11
Knoxville 7353 12
Iowa_City 68364 13
Council_Bluffs 61986 14
Humboldt 4671 15
Decorah 8097 16
West_Des_Moines 57041 17
Keokuk 10757 18
Harlan 5098 19
Des_Moines 204362 20
Coralville 18931 21
Eldridge 5630 22
Le_Mars 9765 23
Fort_Dodge 25109 24
Fort_Madison 11022 25
Jefferson 4329 26
Mason_City 28012 27
Clive 15557 27
Burlington 25624 29
Oskaloosa 11494 30
Dyersville 4093 31
Clarinda 5535 32
Evansdale 4741 33
Red_Oak 5710 34
Marshalltown 27465 35
Webster_City 8024 36
Shenandoah 5144 37
Waterloo 68248 38
Centerville 5519 39
Sioux_City 82529 40
Hampton 4438 41
Denison 8253 42
Carroll 10057 43
Ottumwa 24849 44
Vinton 5253 45
Altoona 14563 46
Estherville 6318 47
Clinton 26877 48
Bettendorf 33347 49
Mount_Pleasant 8737 50
Spencer 11204 51
Washington 7277 52
Cedar_Falls 39197 53
Nevada 6795 54
Waukee 14108 55
North_Liberty 13330 55
Charles_City 7600 57
Anamosa 5605 58
Fairfield 9462 59
Independence 5988 60
Chariton 4333 61
Perry 7828 62
Glenwood 5276 63
Iowa_Falls 5186 64
Hiawatha 7046 64
Muscatine 22915 66
Newton 15234 67
Maquoketa 6113 68
Oelwein 6408 69
Ames 59206 70
Creston 7821 71
Grimes 8341 72
Indianola 14787 73
Atlantic 7040 74
Norwalk 9012 75
De_Witt 5299 76
Urbandale 39426 77
Windsor_Heights 4857 78
Sergeant_Bluff 4178 79
Boone 12658 80
Winterset 5170 81
Waverly 9881 82
Forest_City 4142 83
Johnston 17316 84
Storm_Lake 10541 85
Marion 34750 86
Carlisle 4070 86
Ankeny 45732 88
Sheldon 5096 89
Camanche 4429 90
Pella 10365 91
Pleasant_Hill 8678 92
Orange_City 6054 93
Sioux_Center 7055 94
Asbury 4385 95

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2 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Drunkest Places In Iowa

  1. No way is Council Bluffs not in the top 10! It’s one of the drunkest, dirtiest towns I’ve ever lived in! Broadway St. is like Iowa’s little Las Vegas, and I mean that in the most negative way.

  2. Clear Lake has its share of bars but that’s because of its proximity to Mason City and the attraction of the lake itself, which is a nice natural lake with very powerful springs deep in its waters, and it’s the location of the famous Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson and Richie Valens played their last show and died the next day in a plane crash at nearby Mason City airport on takeoff, bound for Moorhead, Minnesota.
    The Surf Ballroom has had some very incredible acts play there: Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Merle Haggard, Cheap Trick, B.B. King, hell, I can’t remember them all! It’s a very nice town, and if it’s boring, maybe it’s because YOU are, authors.

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