We’ve all heard it before: beer before liquor, never been sicker, liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. But how much validity is there to this well-known pre-gaming anthem?
Not much, it turns out. At the end of the day, it’s not what you drink that will make you sick, but how much you drink. Drinking too much of any alcohol can make you sick; it doesn’t matter if it’s wine, beer, or liquor, or in what order you pick your poison.
So where did this myth come from? According to The New York Times, the myth originated from the way we digest alcohol. Carbonated drinks like beer and sparkling wine can irritate the lining of the stomach, thereby increasing the rate of alcohol absorption. Then there’s the fact that people who have had liquor to start with tend to drink less beer. People tend to progress from beer to liquor, so when they get sick at the end of the night, they blame the last thing they drank.
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They are wrong to do so. As Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist at the New York University School of Medicine, told The Times, the only thing that matters is how much you drank and if you were eating while you drank it. All of us who were convinced that this drinking mantra actually held validity from a scientific standpoint were fooled; there is, unfortunately, no chemical reaction to drinking liquor before beer that wards off hangovers.
However, there is something to be said about starting your night out with liquor and transitioning to beer, as opposed to beginning with your favorite lager. As Dr. Keri Peterson wrote for Today, “With any alcohol, your inhibition decreases, which often leads to drinking more — so if you start with a beverage that has a higher alcohol content, your inhibition goes down more quickly and you tend to drink more.” In other words, regardless of what you started with, your inhibitions will be lowered by the time you get to your second and third (and fourth) drink, and you’ll be drinking more eagerly. Sticking with lower-calorie options, such as a 5 to 6 percent ABV beer, as opposed to beverages with hard liquor, will monitor the amount of alcohol going into your system. Hopefully.
The moral of the story is, pacing is key. We’re all adults here; you don’t want to be that guy anymore.