College Myths Debunked: Liquor Before Beer…Doesn’t Make That Much of a Difference

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drinking a beerAs college students, we are constantly inundated with new knowledge. It can be useful, thought-provoking, or crammed into our head on a Starbucks-fueled binge several hours before an exam. However, very rarely do we question the validity of all this new knowledge (unless you take philosophy classes, then you’ll question away).

That’s where College Candy comes in. We’re not going to debate whether or not the Theory of Relativity actually exists (a disappointment, I know, but I’m a communications major and stopped taking science classes after Baby Bio fresh year). However, we are here to thoroughly investigate the most widespread college knowledge (no, not rhyming): the myth.

This week, I’ve been busy with preparations for my 21st birthday party on Saturday (FINALLY). Amidst trying to find a free party bus and a hot pink dress right after everyone’s Fall colors came out, I began to stress about the optimal level of intoxication I’m aiming for (somewhere in between taking over the DJ booth and being escorted out of the club). I don’t want to be too drunk, but I know I’ll be surrounded by people trying very hard to get me very wasted. I thought to myself, “Well, I’ll start with a few rounds of shots, then downgrade to flip cup and beer pong to mellow myself out.”

There it is, the golden rule. Liquor before beer and you’re in the clear! The thing is, I know this isn’t true, I knew on my 16th birthday that this “rule” was BS. The amount of alcohol you drink—not the type and not the order in which you drink it—determines how drunk you get.

But how has this myth persisted for so long if so much scientific evidence proves it’s false? Well, for me at least, personal experience holds much more weight than whatever the people in lab coats have to say. And my personal experience has taught me that beer before liquor almost always leaves me sicker. So why the huge disagreement between the scientists and the drunk people? Let’s examine this logically.

If you start the night out with a shot and a few mixed drinks, you’re well aware that you need to pace yourself (most of the time). You space out your Long Island Iced Teas evenly, or perhaps drink water in between them (OK, I’ve never actually done that). Once the bottles run out, you mosey on over to the keg to enjoy some quality Natty Lite. You continue drinking at the same rate you were before, and spend the rest of the night being witty and charming before making out with that hot lacrosse player you beat at beer pong.

But what if that equation were reversed? Science tells us that you and the lacrosse player still would have been good to go, seeing as how your 12 oz. beer contains the same amount as your 1.5 oz. shot of liquor. Unfortunately for you, the liquor is absorbed much more quickly than the beer (especially if it’s mixed with anything carbonated).

So if you start out filling up your Solo cup every 5 minutes with beer, you’ll probably continue that pace when you switch to mixed drinks…and end up drinking way too much, way too fast. Goodbye #42; the only thing you’ll be kissing tonight is your toilet.

Come Saturday, I will feel free to accept shots from various people at any point in the evening, regardless of how many keg stands I may or may not have already done. The key to my new drinking plan? Have my mom help me keep track of how much I’ve drank (yeah, she’s comin’ to the party!) and switch to water for a while if I feel myself crashing and burning.

The liquor before beer myth is definitely, definitely false, so drink away and in any order (just pace yourself!).

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