BRITAIN'S image as a nation of binge-drinkers could be about to change, says a report today.
Although analysts predict spending on alcohol will continue to rise, the amount drunk is set to fall slightly.
Increased health awareness, an ageing population and pressure to scrap drinks promotions, such as two-for-one, are among the explanations for the change in habits.
Market analysts Datamonitor believe Britons will become more sophisticated in their drinking and choose cocktails and quality wine over deals like £1 a pint.
The report found drinkers in the UK spend more on alcohol than any other country in Europe - around £1,272 per person a year.
This compares with £1,026 in France, £688 in Spain and £566 in Germany.
But while we top the spending league, the Germans consume the most - 215 litres per person a year, as against 174 litres in the UK.
Datamonitor said UK drinkers will spend £1,383 per person a year on alcohol in 2008.
Yet in the same year it expects consumption to drop to 171 litres per adult.
Germans are also expected to curb their drinking habits, drinking 210 litres each in 2008.
But Spaniards are predicted to increase their alcohol consumption from 161 litres to 170 each per year, while Italians will drink 138 litres, as against 132 litres per person now.
A Datamonitor spokesman said: "Government pressure to drink less will have a big influence over the coming years.
"But we have already seen a shift in habits, with more fashionable bars, fewer old-style pubs and women feeling happy to drink with friends.
"The change in licensing laws is also likely to see a more relaxing, continental-style drinking culture," he added.