Existing surveys of African-American drinking patterns have not adequately differentiated those social structural and cultural variables that may account for intra-group differences in alcohol consumption patterns. In this report we provide a brief overview of the existing literature and develop logic to support a more comprehensive modeling of blacks' drinking behaviors that explores the influences of several social structural and cultural variables hypothesized to either place African Americans at risk for, or protect against, maladaptive drinking. Using data obtained from a sub-sample of 826 employed African American men drawn from a recent survey of African American workers we broadly establish the theoretical utility of a model of drinking behaviors that focuses on a series of empirically verified race-specific risks and protections that partially account for blacks' intra-group variation in drinking patterns and outcomes.