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

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!).

    Comments

    Comments

    1. Salome says:

      What I'm curious about…it normal takes me several drinks to get me drunk. I've had as many 4 vodka-and-cranberries and still been quite coherent. But the other night, I slammed back only two Natty Lights and I was already blitzed. So does the speed at which you drink make a difference? I think because I was drinking really fast, or maybe even because I hadn't had that much to eat that day…but even so, that was unusually quick for me.

      1. EuroK2me says:

        Lots depends on how much you have eaten before you drink. Your state of mind while you are drinking and how fast you are consuming the alcohol. Takes about an hour for the liver to process that Natty Light..a little longer to process liquor.

    2. Annie says:

      This article was really difficult to read. Just so you know…

    3. Alisha says:

      Happy Birthday! my 21st birthday is on saturday too!

    4. JohnE says:

      Amatuers. If you are counting or feel the need to pace yourself you probably have a problem.

    5. […] 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. […]

    6. Tory says:

      Actually this myth is not completely false. The carbonation in beer causes your body to absorb more alcohol. Something about blood being thinner I believe. This causes your BAC to increase more which can lead to sickness.

    7. Frank says:

      Drink enough of anything and you're doomed, but starting heavy and tapering off is the smart move. If you're drunk and then start doing shots, you're probably going to do a few of them, and they mix with the beer that hasn't yet been processed… so you're adding more alcohol to the processing, taking you past your limit without control.

      Tips:

      Eat a good meal before drinking. This will help slow the process and allow better management of your drinking. Pasta good, salad bad.

      If you're getting over the top, just stop and drink a couple pints of water. If you don't want to look like a wuss, drink club soda with lemon/lime.

      Don't be brave and feel you have to keep up with anybody. Worshiping the porcelain God is never fun, so keep that image of you with your head in the toilet on someone's facebook page in the back of your mind at all times.

      If you simply must get wasted, put on a good buzz then stick to beer. Also, learn to make low-proof shot drinks. Kamikazes and Red Death's come to mind, 'cause you can whip up a pitcher and drink 'em with your friends, and they do less damage than a straight shot of tequila or vodka.

      This may sound stupid, but practice makes perfect. Find out what works for you and remember that formula. Modify according to how f*cked up you want to be. The one guy who mentions "if you have to count you have a problem" fails to keep in mind that girls weigh a lot less than guys do. Find your limits and stick to them… no matter who eggs you on. I don't need to play drinking games to get trashed, but I do know that when I can't see the other end of the beirut table (beer pong), it's time to lose that round.

      If you're seeing double, STOP F*CKING DRINKING (lots). Have some water, eat something, take a break. You can always resume drinking later.

      Wow, that was wordy… sorry! Hope this helps!

    8. […] True or False: “Liquor before beer keeps you in the clear!” […]

    9. […] Before Beer” Myth Debunked September 16, 2009 – 4:29 pm By COED Staff • “Liquor Before Beer” Myth […]

    10. […] The Beer before Liquor myth exposed […]

    11. mollination says:

      Annie – are you drunk?

    12. Griffin says:

      The saying isn't "Liquor before beer and you're in the clear" and it certainly does not refer to getting drunk.

      The correct saying is "Beer before liquor, never sicker. Liquor before beer, never fear." and it is referring to the ability to drink alcohol without getting sick (vomiting, nausea) at the time of ingestion and the order in which one should ingest these wonderful things.

      We've all taken that shot or drink that just didn't sit well with us. That is what these sayings deal with, not with the next morning hangover.

      And for the scientific evidence – no research was cited in the link and the assistant professor who was quoted holds a degree in psychological sciences, which deal with human activities and their mental applications, not with the actual chemical reactivities within the body.

      This report is flawed along with the MSNBC report to which this report was based on.

    13. Derp says:

      Drinking liquor before beer will make your stomach turn flips…. Literally.

      The liquor is more alcohol per volume than beer, and is thusly, lighter.

      So if you down a bunch of vodka and finish with beer– the beer will just sink straight to the bottom of your stomach and cause this horrible churning action, as the lighter liquor quickly rises to the top.

    14. […] belief, the don’t mix X with X or you will projectile vomit all over yourself and friends is completely false. I mix these all the time and nothing happens to me except I get wasted. I have a few observational […]

    15. […] belief, the don’t mix X with X or you will projectile vomit all over yourself and friends is completely false. I mix these all the time and nothing happens to me except I get wasted. I have a few observational […]

    16. EuroK2me says:

      Beer before liquor will make you sicker because the liver is processing the lower alcohol level of the beer…then the liver is suddenly introduced to a higher alcohol level of the liquor..this is when/why the sickness occurs. . .

      But if you start off with higher alcohol and go to a lower level….the liver is 'ok' with not working so hard.

    17. Billweiser says:

      The person who wrote this article is wrong. You can vomit quicker if you drink beer first, before you drink liquor. I know this on a personal basis. Every time I drink a shot or 2 first, I am fine to enjoy a beer or 6 a half hour later.

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