Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between heavy alcohol use and hypertension, but few studies have directly addressed the role of drinking pattern. This study was designed to investigate the association of current alcohol consumption and aspects of drinking pattern with hypertension risk in a sample of 2609 white men and women from western New York, aged 35 to 80 years, and free from other cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension was defined by systolic blood pressure ≥140 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive medication. Odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were computed after adjustment for several covariates. Compared with lifetime abstainers, participants reporting drinking on a daily basis (1.75 [1.13 to 2.72]) or mostly without food (1.64 [1.08 to 2.51]) exhibited significantly higher risk of hypertension. When analyses were restricted to current drinkers, daily drinkers and participants consuming alcohol without food exhibited a significantly higher risk of hypertension compared with those drinking less than weekly (1.65 [1.18 to 2.30]) and those drinking mostly with food (1.49 [1.10 to 2.00]), respectively. After additional adjustment for the amount of alcohol consumed in the past 30 days, the results were follows: 0.90 (0.58 to 1.41) for daily drinkers and 1.41 (1.04 to 1.91) for drinkers without food. For predominant beverage preference, no consistent association with hypertension risk was found across the various types of beverages considered (beer, wine, and liquor). In conclusion, drinking outside meals appears to have a significant effect on hypertension risk independent of the amount of alcohol consumed.