NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – More Americans are passing up beer and wine for the hard stuff.

For the ninth straight year, distilled spirits like whisky and vodka have had record sales driven by a growing demand for craft cocktails, reports CBS2’s Kenneth Craig.

Allen Katz opened his craft distillery in Brooklyn seven years ago to make gin and whisky, well before many Americans had an appetite for craft spirits – or even knew what they were.

It was the beginning of the renaissance for both distillers and cocktails.

Last year, distilled spirit sales were up more than 5 percent, totaling more than $27 billion, paving the way for a surge in craft distilleries nationwide.

The New York distilling company serves up drinks at a bar right next door.

“People are looking for quality, they’re looking for locally made products, looking to support their neighbors,” said John O’Donnell.

David Ozgo from Distilled Spirits Council says more expensive, high end alcohol is a big driver in the booze boom.

“When you look at the millennial generation, they don’t really like to buy things, they like to buy experiences,” said Ozgo. “Distilled spirits are ideally suited for that kind of buying.”

Katz says his sales have jumped by nearly 50 percent in just the past two years, part of a thriving cocktail culture that shows no signs of slowing down.

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