Check all the charts and graphs you want, but finding proof of financial optimism may be as simple as visiting your local liquor store.

Sales of premium spirits are up, and some believe that’s an indicator people are feeling more optimistic about the economy. Not to mention the fact that we’re always drunk.

During recessions, alcohol sales don’t usually suffer (really, what better time to drink?), but there’s often a change in the types of booze people buy. For example, $20 and $30 bottles of wine were popular before the housing market collapsed, but when things fell apart and unemployment soared, bottles costing $9 to $12 became the fastest-growing segment in the wine market. We’ll always prefer boxed wine.

But now? According to the 2011 numbers released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), sales of the pricey “super premium” category of vodka rose almost 16 percent, and revenues for top-quality bourbons and whiskeys increased 11.4 percent.

Overall, Americans bought $19.9 billion of liquor last year, up 4 percent from 2010.  In addition, the market shares of liquor posted slight gains compared to beer, indicating consumers feel good enough about their finances to splurge on upscale beverages again. Sales of Natty Ice are probably way down. On second thought, there are still kids in college, so probably not.

[Via Time]