Mindfulness-based strategies have received empirical support for improving coping with stress and reducing alcohol use. The present study presents a moderated mediation model to explain how mindfulness might promote healthier drinking patterns. This model posits that mindfulness reduces perceived stress, leading to less alcohol use, and also weakens the linkage between stress and alcohol use. African American smokers (N = 399, 51 % female, M age = 42) completed measures of dispositional mindfulness, perceived stress, quantity of alcohol use, frequency of binge drinking, and alcohol use disorder symptoms. Participants with higher levels of dispositional mindfulness reported less psychosocial stress and lower alcohol use on all measures. Furthermore, mindfulness moderated the relationship between perceived stress and quantity of alcohol consumption. Specifically, higher perceived stress was associated with increased alcohol use among participants low, but not high, in mindfulness. Mindfulness may be one strategy to reduce perceived stress and associated alcohol use among African American smokers.