OBJECTIVE In this study, we assess the initial effects of employment status (not yet retired/continued employment, retirement with bridge employment and full retirement) on the alcohol consumption and drinking problems of retirement-eligible blue-collar workers. METHOD Data were collected at two points from a random sample of members of nine unions within 6 months of retirement eligibility. Alcohol consumption and drinking problem data were collected from 1279 members 6 months prior to retirement-eligibility (T1) and from 1083 retained respondents 1 year later (T2). At T2 respondents were categorized as (1) not yet retired, (2) retired but engaging in bridge employment or (3) fully retired. RESULTS Across all of the models tested, alcohol consumption and drinking behaviors at T1 were significant predictors of those same patterns of consumption or behavior at T2 and explained the greatest proportion of the variance in those same patterns at T2, suggesting that alcohol consumption and drinking behaviors remain largely stable over the period of time in which individuals become eligible to retire. Nevertheless, taking into account the effects of periodic heavy drinking prior to retirement and a variety of other factors, individuals opting to retire fully were twice as likely to engage in periodic heavy drinking (odds ratio = 2.01, p < .05) as those continuing to work. Bridge employment (as compared with continued employment) was also associated with significantly higher quantities of alcohol consumed on average drinking occasions (Beta = 0.14, p < .05). CONCLUSIONS Retirement, at least in its early stages, is not associated with major shifts in alcohol consumption or problem drinking status. However, the particular retirement trajectory taken may have significant implications for individuals.