This study focuses on the population genetics of alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) in cactophilic Drosophila. Drosophila mojavensis and D. arizonae utilize cactus hosts, and each host contains a characteristic mixture of alcohol compounds. In these Drosophila species there are two functional Adh loci, an adult form (Adh-2) and a larval and ovarian form (Adh-1). Overall, the greater level of variation segregating in D. arizonae than in D. mojavensis suggests a larger population size for D. arizonae. There are markedly different patterns of variation between the paralogs across both species. A 16-bp intron haplotype segregates in both species at Adh-2, apparently the product of an ancient gene conversion event between the paralogs, which suggests that there is selection for the maintenance of the intron structure possibly for the maintenance of pre-mRNA structure. We observe a pattern of variation consistent with adaptive protein evolution in the D. mojavensis lineage at Adh-1, suggesting that the cactus host shift that occurred in the divergence of D. mojavensis from D. arizonae had an effect on the evolution of the larval expressed paralog. Contrary to previous work we estimate a recent time for both the divergence of D. mojavensis and D. arizonae (2.4 +/- 0.7 MY) and the age of the gene duplication (3.95 +/- 0.45 MY).