a sophisticated gag
February 8, 2019 2:01 AM   Subscribe

 
I always thought the cause of the mixing-your-alcohol effect was that if you're having multiple kinds of drinks you are probably drinking more, but I don't know how a study could measure that.
posted by each day we work at 2:52 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


Liar! You've got antifreeze.
posted by flabdablet at 2:54 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Next up: gin doesn't make you any more melancholy than the equivalent amount of any other spirit, and being drunk on absinthe isn't any more lucid or creative than being drunk on Jägerbombs or whatever.
posted by acb at 3:02 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


“Everyone knows the saying, “beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer”

I've only heard "liquor before beer, you're in the clear, beer before liquor, never been sicker."
Not that anyone believes it. Also, is that usage of queer still common in the UK?
posted by AnhydrousLove at 3:43 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Also, is that usage of queer still common in the UK?

Sorta? I've heard it. Most people would probably just use a synonym though.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:54 AM on February 8


The volunteers, aged 19 to 40, were given a standardised meal tailored to their individual energy requirements

Fuck yeah! I love to be given a standardised meal tailored to my individual energy requirements!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:30 AM on February 8 [38 favorites]


“The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover,” said Jöran Köchling, the first author on the study Professor of The Bleeding Obvious from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany.
posted by billiebee at 4:41 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


I always thought the cause of the mixing-your-alcohol effect was that if you're having multiple kinds of drinks you are probably drinking more

I dunno, cider* in combination with almost anything else always seems to heighten the effects noticeably.

I can also advise, never mix port and ouzo.

*British usage, ie ‘cider’ is definitely alcoholic and maybe up to 8% abv
posted by Segundus at 5:05 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Or crème de menthe and beer.
posted by Mogur at 5:10 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I've never heard the saying about the order in which you should drink beer and wine. What I have heard frequently is that you should never mix grape and grain, which suggests that the results will be bad irrespective of the order you drink them in. The only similar saying I know about the order of drinking is "beer and whisky make you feel frisky - whisky and beer make you feel queer", which sounds much more fun. I think queer is used in its old-fashioned sense (because this is an old saying) and also because it rhymes nicely with beer.
posted by Fuchsoid at 5:28 AM on February 8


I believe in the saying beer before liquor before beer, you're in the clear, beer before liquor, never been sicker and here's why....

If you drink beer first you're likely to pour your mixed drinks heavy. You know, because you're drunk.

Switching to beer after liquor though, now you've got a standard dose with every beverage and your drunk ass doesn't have to be in charge of regulating intake quite so much.

I often at a party will switch to beer if I notice I've attained peak buzz and don't wish to step over the line to "we're all going streaking!"
posted by skinnydipp at 5:41 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Next up: gin doesn't make you any more melancholy than the equivalent amount of any other spirit, and being drunk on absinthe isn't any more lucid or creative than being drunk on Jägerbombs or whatever.

Also, tequila doesn't make you appreciably drunker or wilder than any other distilled spirit of comparable strength, and it's kind of weird and racist to insist that a quintessentially Mexican drink turns people into uninhibited sex-crazed deviants.
posted by duffell at 5:45 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


and don't wish to step over the line to "we're all going streaking!"

posted by skinnydipp




:D
posted by darkstar at 5:53 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


Next up: gin doesn't make you any more melancholy than the equivalent amount of any other spirit, and being drunk on absinthe isn't any more lucid or creative than being drunk on Jägerbombs or whatever.

This isn't really true. Real absinthe has more psychoactive compounds than just ethanol.

And when you get into the science of booze, most/all forms of potable alcohol have a variety of different psychoactive and/or slightly toxic compounds or chemicals that have different physiological effects via congeners.

One notable example is terpenes in beer, notably myrcene and linalool from hops. Which is, yep, also found in cannabis and lavender and thyme and other plants.

And this is why a really hoppy IPA will make you so sleepy, mellow or high. Drinking a heavily hopped beer really isn't that much different than the effects of terpenes in cannabis. Or lavender. Or chamomile tea.

Or eating a whole lot of rosemary and most of our spices that we don't commonly classify as recreational drugs, even though they are indeed psychoactive too.

So that fancy craft cocktail with bitters, infusions, herbs or plants and other aromatic ingredients is actually not just booze. It's a heady mix of some really complicated chemistry. The number of different compounds in a drink like that could range from dozens to hundreds, and the presence of alcohol can speed absorption and even potentiate these compounds.

And this is why drinking the same alcoholic equivalent units of, say jaegermeister or red wine will tend to give you a worse hangover than vodka and plain soda. You're getting more than just booze, and while terpenes often have many desired effects, not all congeners are terpenes and some of them can be quite toxic or difficult to process. Some of these congeners are just byproducts of a given method of production, such as the tannins in wine.

Not all booze is equal. Most of our commonly enjoyed beverages have a lot more going on chemically than being alcoholic.
posted by loquacious at 5:56 AM on February 8 [59 favorites]


And if you want to take a trip through the wild Hunter S. Thompson drug cabinet that is your spice rack, start with the monoterpenes and see how many of those are in your food (and drink!) every day.
posted by loquacious at 6:10 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Why does a small amount (4 oz.) of (delicious, homemade) mead produce a headache when a similar amount of sherry with a higher ABV does not? I am not the only one to notice this.
posted by Botanizer at 6:32 AM on February 8


Witten/Herdecke University in Germany

It's definitely a common German saying: "Bier auf Wein das lass sein - Wein auf Bier, das rat' ich Dir!". However - according to this article, at least - given its medieval origin, it was never to do with your physical well-being - if anything, it could only really have been taken as a metaphorical memo about social mobilty/aspiration...
posted by progosk at 6:34 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


"I trust that you will forgive my friend. The wines were too various. It was neither the quality nor the quantity that was at fault—it was the mixture. Grasp that and you have the very root of the matter. To understand all is to forgive all."
(Next week on Brideshead Revisited—Sebastian's drinking problem grows worse.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:35 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


I don't find that wine and beer go great together, just in a taste way. I definitely wouldn't want to alternate sips. But I've never noticed any difference between a night out that starts with beers and then moves to wine, or one that does the reverse. I definitely agree with the danger of switching to hard liquor late in the evening when your judgement is already impaired.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:44 AM on February 8


Real absinthe has more psychoactive compounds than just ethanol.

If you mean thujone, that's partly true. Absinthe from the 19th/20th century did contain that, though analysis of samples showed that it was present in very small quantities, enough to legally make identical absinthe today.

As for all those people who went mad drinking absinthe in the garrets of bohemian Paris? That was mostly down to poor quality control, much like Hogarth-era gin.
posted by acb at 6:52 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Why does a small amount (4 oz.) of (delicious, homemade) mead produce a headache when a similar amount of sherry with a higher ABV does not?

Not a chemist, but a potential explanation might be that one doesn't have as careful control over the fermentation process in a homemade setup, so may end up with more short chain alcohol molecules - more on the ethanol end. As I understand it, this was historically a gamble that drinkers took with homemade moonshine during prohibition - could be great, could poison you/make you go blind due to having too much of the wrong sort of alcohol. N.B., also why drinking rubbing alcohol would be unwise.
posted by eviemath at 7:12 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Regarding the usage of queer in these alcohol precautions - yeah, that's the old, derogatory usage, which should be avoided in general(*).

(* Like other derogatory terms, those who it was intended to have more leeway to play around with the language as part of the reclamation process. Usage has changed enough that non-members can refer to, eg., "the queer community" without worry of offense. But those of us who don't so identify should still stick to avoiding other usages.)
posted by eviemath at 7:17 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


The saying I'm familiar with is "beer before liquor you've never been sicker, liquor before beer you're in the clear". The study's findings make sense it's total alcohol not the order that's important.

My general rules is that when you've already been drinking it's better to make lower alcohol decisions rather than higher alcohol decisions. Tequila shots early are less problematic than tequila shots at last call.
posted by ShakeyJake at 7:32 AM on February 8


I remember the adage as such:

Liquor before beer, all is clear
Beer before liquor, also aweseome
posted by FatherDagon at 7:34 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


"Never fear" in place of "in the clear". Boston! Hah.
posted by wellred at 7:58 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I can also advise, never mix port and ouzo.

Sweet baby Jesus.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:05 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Texan here: Beer and liquor, never sicker; liquor and beer, never fear.

Fuck yeah! I love to be given a standardised meal tailored to my individual energy requirements!
posted by Greg Nog

Monkey chow?
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:12 AM on February 8


As I understand it, this was historically a gamble that drinkers took with homemade moonshine during prohibition - could be great, could poison
This is a myth - the real reason was because 'bathtub' gin was often adulterated with wood alcohol, and that shit will make you blind!
The other thing that happens with distilled spirits (moonshine), is home distillers often don't make 'cuts' and eliminate the first distillates, which are much higher in ethanol and other hangover-causing compounds.
If a distiller is careful in their cuts at both the front and back end of distilling, one ends with a very fine product, but one also throws out over a third (sometimes up to two thirds) of the distillate - so you get commercial distillers touting 'charcoal filtering' - they have to, because they chose not make their cuts as judiciously, and thus preserve more product to sell.
posted by dbmcd at 8:37 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Not all booze is equal. Most of our commonly enjoyed beverages have a lot more going on chemically than being alcoholic.

For one thing, I would imagine many beers would raise your blood sugar more than, say the equivalent number of drinks of whiskey. You might consume roughly the same amount of alcohol from four beers or four whiskeys, the beer might raise your blood sugar more since there's more going on in a beer than just alcohol.

Maybe it was placebo or whatever effect, but I used to date somebody who was perfectly fine to be around drunk - unless it was a tequila drink. Give her 2-3 Margaritas or whatever and she developed a serious mean streak.
posted by jzb at 8:38 AM on February 8


I don't know what it is either, but some people apparently should never have liquor. They'll be all sweet and cuddly if they stick to beer or cider, but as soon as they have like any quantity of liquor they're off and gone trying to fight the sky and/or ground. I find this reaction to be really disturbing on a number of different levels.

I now never, ever offer anyone liquor or a nip from a flask if I don't know how they actually handle their liquor because I've just seen too many people do this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing. And I'm unfortunately the sort that can sip 100 proof vodka or whiskey for 8 hours straight and the sort that has bartenders comment on how sober I still am even though they've been pouring me doubles all night in addition to my pre-func and personal flask or stash, so it was really confusing learning that I probably shouldn't give certain people any hard liquor.
posted by loquacious at 11:54 AM on February 8


I love reading these "fun" scientific papers (maybe because I read so many papers that are much less entertaining).

Especially liked this part:

Moreover, including a control group that received beer or wine without alcohol proved impossible, because real dissatisfaction and envy were reported by potential alcohol-free controls, because it became clear they might not be randomly assigned to the ever-so-happy booze-sipping study groups. We even noted surreptitious attempts to switch into the alcohol-consuming study groups during a pilot intervention, with underhand smuggling maneuvers
posted by randomnity at 11:55 AM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Why does a small amount (4 oz.) of (delicious, homemade) mead produce a headache when a similar amount of sherry with a higher ABV does not?

Honey is a very complex substance with difficult to ferment sugars, so you get more alcohols that aren't ethanol, which I know as fusel alcohols, which kick you in the head really hard. The solution appears to be time, with 7-10 year old mead being noticeably nicer to drink and a lot kinder on the head. I don't know why this is, I'm a homebrewer and my chemistry knowledge lags behind.

Freeze distilled spirits will punish you in a similar but even worse fashion.
posted by deadwax at 12:25 PM on February 8


never mix port and ouzo

or crème de menthe and beer

Why does a small amount (4 oz.) of (delicious, homemade) mead produce a headache when a similar amount of sherry with a higher ABV does not?


Can't help but notice a few of those have a high(er) sugar content. This is what I have always suspected lead to hangovers - the combination of alcohol and sugar.
posted by koucha at 12:26 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I can’t drink beer anymore even though I used to love it. I can occasionally have a light beer or two in hot weather (I do enjoy a nice red ale) but sticking to whisky, gin, or white wine all night leaves me far less drunk and far less hungover. (I mix with water not tonic bc tonic is awful, but that can’t be the only reason.)
posted by sio42 at 12:46 PM on February 8


All alcohol may be the same, but the media varies: champagne is a headache in a fluted glass for me.
posted by Cris E at 1:54 PM on February 8


champagne is a headache in a fluted glass for me.

There's likely something to that - this study looked at the effect of carbonation:

Alcohol absorption and elimination vary considerably amongst individuals, and are subject to influences from a variety of factors. The effects of alcohol concentration and beverage mixer type on the rate of alcohol absorption, in a controlled environment was studied.

21 subjects (12 male, 9 female) consumed a solution containing alcohol, on three separate occasions. The three solutions were, A: Neat vodka (37.5 vol%), B: Vodka mixed with still water (18.75 vol%), C: Vodka mixed with carbonated water (18.75 vol%). The volume of alcohol each subject consumed was determined by Widmark’s equation. The alcohol was drunk in a 5 min period following an overnight fast and breath alcohol concentrations were measured over a 4 h period using a breathalyser.

20/21 subjects absorbed the dilute alcohol at a faster rate than the concentrated alcohol. The difference between the absorption rates was found to be significant (p < 0.001).

The use of a carbonated mixer had varying effects on the alcohol absorption rate. 14/21 subjects absorbed the alcohol with the carbonated mixer at a faster rate, with 7 subjects showing either no change or a decrease in rate. The mean absorption rate for solution C was 4.39 ± 0.45 (mg/100 ml/min), and the difference between this absorption rate and that with the still mixer (1.08 + 0.36) was significant (p = 0.006).

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:03 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Liquor before beer, in he clear
Beer before liquor comes up quicker.

My own theory is based on the observation that the relative concentrations of alcohol are different. Adding beer (low alcohol to volume) into your tummy when you already had hard stuff will reduce the concentration of alcohol, whereas adding hard liquor will suddenly raise the concentration (with only a small increase in volume).
posted by wenestvedt at 6:40 AM on February 9


The other thing that happens with distilled spirits (moonshine), is home distillers often don't make 'cuts' and eliminate the first distillates, which are much higher in ethanol and other hangover-causing compounds.

Well, I was incorrect in that it's the more complex alcohols that have higher toxicity, per wikipedia.

But please don't say that my comment is a "myth" and then merely explain the specific details of how my comment is correct (that some moonshine makers were not scrupulous about quality control, while others were, and if you didn't know your source well enough you wouldn't know if your were getting high quality stuff or stuff that might make you very sick - aka poison you).
posted by eviemath at 7:01 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


But please don't say that my comment is a "myth" and then merely explain the specific details of how my comment is correct (that some moonshine makers were not scrupulous about quality control, while others were, and if you didn't know your source well enough you wouldn't know if your were getting high quality stuff or stuff that might make you very sick - aka poison you).

I think they might have been trying to imply that it was more common for alcohol to be dangerously toxic because of deliberate adulteration, rather than poor quality control? During Prohibition the former was a threat for sure. As far as quality control goes, I've heard conflicting claims about whether toxic levels of methanol are likely to occur in distillation under normal circumstances, but also that heavy metal contamination from makeshift stills is a real issue.
posted by atoxyl at 8:38 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Not a chemist, but a potential explanation might be that one doesn't have as careful control over the fermentation process in a homemade setup, so may end up with more short chain alcohol molecules - more on the ethanol end. As I understand it, this was historically a gamble that drinkers took with homemade moonshine during prohibition - could be great, could poison you/make you go blind due to having too much of the wrong sort of alcohol. N.B., also why drinking rubbing alcohol would be unwise.

I am a chemist and I've dabbled in making my own spirits. (Shhh don't tell the feds I could get into trouble) As long as you are fermenting sugars with yeast the amount of methanol or other alcohols other than ethanol is vanishingly small. Methanol is easily separated from the ethanol during the distillation process (Methanol bp = 64C ethanol bp = 78C) as long as you throw away the first shot off of the still you would be absolutely fine. The antidote for methanol poisoning is ethanol anyways, so as long as you've got the methanol down to a very low level there really isn't anything to worry about. In the distillers parlance there are three fractions you collect: head, heart, and tails. The head is the first bit that comes out of the still, followed by the heart which then gradually switches over to the tails. How you switch over from heart to tails is personal preference, I just put some of the distillate as it was coming out of the still on a paper towel and when it stopped being able to be set on fire I stopped the still and considered the rest as tails. I had access to a gas chromatograph so I examined the composition of the head and found that while it did contain some additional low boiling point esters in minute quantities, the methanol levels were negligible (as in there was the barest hint of a peak, but it couldn't be quantified). The heart also contained a minuscule amount of other complicated esters, and absolutely no methanol.

Also all you're really going to get out of a distillation are going to be short chain alcohols and water along with other volatile compounds. Butanol (BP 117C) would also be considered short chain and you would absolutely not bother distilling it over.

As far as drinking rubbing alcohol in actuality the isopropanol is more effective than ethanol in making you drunk. The therapeutic window unfortunately is also rather narrow, mostly due to the metabolic products responsible for excretion. Ethanol -> Acetaldehyde -> Acetic acid -> excreted but Isopropanol -> Acetone -> bad juju as it can't be easily oxidised and rendered inert (probably goes via hydroxylation than either a ubiquitinylation or glucorinadation). n-Propanol would be fin though, but the carbon chain is just a little too long so the effectiveness if reduced against many of the targets that ethanol can effect.

Now during prohibition you could still buy methanol and isopropanol (and industrial ethanol) as they are very important industrial chemicals that have many uses other than drinking. So an "easy" way to bulk out your moonshine would be to mix in these to your batch and you're able to sell more. It is quite similar to the cutting process in the illegal drug trade now. If you can buy in pure 99% cocaine or heroin and and in some filler to cut it down to 75% and people can't tell the difference then you're making essentially 25% more money with no additional risk (assuming the risk is in the importing).
posted by koolkat at 12:51 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


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