Tavern revenues and alcohol consumption in the Muscovite state, 1620s-1640s
The level of alcohol consumption and the role of alcohol taxes as a source of state revenue in pre-Petrine Russia have been the subject of much scholarly interest and political speculation, yet reliable data on the magnitude of trade in “grain wine” is still lacking. This article draws on the records of central government agencies from the 1620s to the early 1650s to partially fill this gap. In the decades immediately following the Times of Trouble, tavern revenues nearly doubled in absolute numbers and accounted for about a quarter of the total state revenue of Muscovy. The growth rate of tavern revenues was on par with the rate of population growth (the urban population increased by 60 percent between the 1620s and 1640s). The article discusses different methods of running the state alcohol monopoly and estimates the profitability of alcohol trade and the overall levels of alcohol consumption during the period under study.