Wags point out that investing in alcohol producers -- wineries, distilleries, brewers, and distributors -- is a safe bet during recessions, when people need to alleviate higher levels of stress.

Although alcohol isn't recession-proof -- higher-end drinks and point-of-sale trends are down -- alcohol usually proves itself to be a steady grower.

Getting into the numbers
Who are the major alcohol companies, and how do they stack up to one another?

Company

Market Cap (in Millions)

Revenue, LTM (in Millions)

Free Cash Flow, LTM (in Millions)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD)

$77,351

$36,888

$7,411

***

AmBev (NYSE: ABV)

$62,532

$13,064

$4,270

****

Diageo (NYSE: DEO)

$39,813

$13,729

$2,929

*****

Brown Forman (NYSE: BF-B)

$8,687

$2,444

$544

****

Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP)

$8,100

$3,134

$777

*****

Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ)

$3,553

$3,365

$295

***

Data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor’s, and the Motley Fool CAPS database.
*2009 Q4 results.

It's important to keep track of revenue, but free cash flow gives us a better sense of what the company is doing with that revenue -- and whether it'll have the funds to invest in the business later.

Which alcohol company do you like, and why? Let us know in the comments.

Fool editor Julie Clarenbach doesn't own any of the companies mentioned here. Diageo is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.