Does Mixing Alcohol Make You Drunker?

Tis the season to get sloppy, but does mixing every kind of alcohol in your house help to make the season bright or turn you into a green grinch? Hi eggnog heads, Julian here for DNews. If you’re like me you get into the holiday spirits, if you know what I’m saying. So we around the office were wondering if mixing different kinds of alcohols makes you drunker or more hungover. Naturally I volunteered to research. After they told me it was inappropriate to drink at work and that Discovery had a very strict pants policy, I found some studies on the subject online. One in the USA looked into the effects of dark liquors vs light liquors.

Researchers took a group of university students and gave them either vodka with coke, whiskey with coke, or a placebo of tonic water and coke with a dash of one of the liquors for flavor. After all the students blew .11g of alcohol per 100ml of breath, they spent the night at the clinic. They were woken up at 7, fed breakfast, and given a series of tests. Then they were sent on their way with 450 dollars in their pocket. Talk about the best study ever. The results are interesting. The whiskey and vodka drinkers performed equally well on reaction time tests but the whiskey drinkers reported more severe hangovers. This means that one liquor doesn’t get you more drunk than another, it’s just the total amount of alcohol consumed that’s important. What does affect hangovers though are the congeners in the liquor. Congeners are byproducts of the fermentation process and include tannins, acetone and acetaldehyde.

Dark liquors have way more congeners, and the whiskey used in the study had 37 times the congeners the vodka had. What about that old chestnut, “beer before liquor, never sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear?” While that may be true, it’s not because of some magical combination of the two liquors inside you that depends on the order they were mixed. It really has more to do with misjudging how much alcohol is in each drink. Even diluted in a mixed drink, liquor has two to five times more alcohol by volume than beer. So when people start with a mixed drink and then switch to beer, in essence they’re tapering off and letting their liver catch up.

Conversely if they start with a beer and switch to liquor later in the night, they’re stepping on the gas without realizing it, since they’re probably finishing drinks at the same rate. And because people often attribute the last thing they drank to doing them in, they think it’s the liquor that brought them to worship at the porcelain altar. So these holidays if you want to avoid a nasty hangover and stay off the naughty list, you can mix drinks but stick to clear liquors and watch your overall alcohol intake. If you’re a super lightweight and light up like Rudolph’s nose when you drink, you’re not alone. Chastity might have some info to comfort you here. Do you have a favorite holiday cocktail? I’m trying to perfect my own “nuclear mistletoe,” which is 4 parts tequila, 1 part making out, and 1 part regret. Let us know in the comments and I’ll see you next time on DNews.