Some people like to drink and others stay away from alcohol. To each their own; as long as you are drinking responsibly, there’s nothing wrong with having a few glasses of wine every now and then. I’ve never been a big drinker myself, but having a bit of alcohol can be a quick and effective way to loosen up at a social function. Plus, some of it tastes great.
Regardless of whether you’re into drinking or not, the history, science, and legality of alcohol can be downright fascinating. Here are some awesome alcohol facts that you probably haven’t heard before.
1. Alcohol is considered a performance-enhancing drug for professional shooters.
This seems counterintuitive because alcohol is known to impair judgment and motor skills, but consuming a small quantity can actually provide an advantage to professional shooters. This is because ingesting alcohol will lower their heart rate and their more relaxed state can lead them to perform better.
Don’t try this out yourself, though. Operating any kind of weapon under the influence (or even in general) can lead to some serious and irreversible consequences. Besides, the professionals aren’t even supposed to drink any alcohol before events since it is a “performance enhancing drug” and has been banned from competitions.
2. President John Adams drank about a quarter pint of cider every morning.
President Adams wrote about this habit in his diary and claimed that there were no adverse effects to drinking the cider so often or so heavily. He lived to be 90 years old, so maybe he knew what he was talking about–or maybe he was just lucky.
3. During Prohibition, about 10,000 people died as a result of drinking alcohol that was poisoned by the U.S. government.
In an effort to discourage people from drinking and warn against the dangers of alcoholism, the United States government actually poisoned alcohol so that people would have adverse reactions to it. I guess the was to have a few people suffer so that the rest wouldn’t partake in the drinking festivities, but people clearly didn’t stop with the Prohibition parties because thousands of people passed away as a result of drinking these tainted beverages. Talk about sketchy government activity!
4. Liquor prescriptions during Prohibition prompted the growth of the Walgreens pharmacy franchise.
On the other hand, not all alcohol was banned, because doctors were actually prescribing it to patients who were suffering from cancer, indigestion, or depression. You better believe that if I were living in the U.S. in the 1920s, I’d come up with some illness to get a couple of “medical beers” out of my physician. As a result of liquor prescriptions, the number of Walgreens stores grew from 20 to 400 over the course of Prohibition.
5. Teachers in Russia can be paid in Vodka during times of economic hardship.
I think most teachers would rather be compensated with money, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Unconventional wages during these tough times are often based on the local industry and resources, and other forms of payment have included saucepans, rugs, and gravestones. Imagine getting your gravestone as a reward for doing your job!
6. The most expensive scotch in the world costs $14,000 per shot.
The Macallan 64 Year Old In Lalique was auctioned off in New York in 2010. The 1.5-liter bottle of this special beverage was ultimately sold for $460,000–coming out to $14,000 per shot. I wonder if it was worth it.
7. There are 38 alcohol-related national holidays in the United States.
From National Hot Buttered Rum Day on January 17 to National Sangria Day on December 20, there’s a reason to drink each and every month of the year. Check out the full list of drink-related national holidays here–there’s probably one for your favorite!
8. A gin and tonic will glow under a UV light.
More specifically, it’s the tonic water that causes this drink to glow under an ultraviolet light. This is because tonic water contains a compound called quinine that glows under a black light. There’s something to keep in mind next time you want to host a party!
9. Out of the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverages, red wine makes people the most tired.
Based on the results of a study published in the British Medical Journal, people tend to feel most sleepy after drinking red wine as opposed to white wine, liquor, beer, and cider.
10. Consuming alcohol as a minor is legal in some U.S. states.
Purchasing alcohol as a minor is completely illegal in the United States, but when it comes to consuming alcohol, there are rules that blur the lines a bit. In fact, there are 29 states in which drinking alcohol on a “private, non-alcohol-selling premises, with parental consent” is legal. If you live in one of them and want to get messed up with parental supervision, go right ahead.
If you don’t want to get drunk with Mom and Dad, there are only six states in which you can consume alcohol “on private, non-alcohol-selling premises” without parental consent: Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.
11. Only sparkling wine produced in Champagne, France, actually qualifies as champagne.
There are actually some pretty strict requirements that a drink has to follow in order to be considered true champagne and this is one of them. I’ve been talking about alcohol incorrectly my whole adult life and you probably have, too.
12. Though alcohol makes you feel warmer, it actually lowers your core body temperature.
The reason you feel warm when you drink alcohol is that alcohol dilates your blood vessels, increasing the volume of blood being brought to the skin’s surface. However, since all of that blood is gravitating towards the skin’s surface instead of moving as it normally does, your core body temperature will go down.
13. Mixing alcohol with a diet soda will likely cause you to get drunk more quickly than mixing with a regular soda.
Even if the amount of alcohol in each drink is the same, your blood alcohol content (BAC) can read up to 25% higher if you opt to mix your drink with diet soda instead of regular soda. This is because the real sugar in normal soda makes it take longer for alcohol to reach your bloodstream than the sugar substitutes used in diet drinks.
14. Beer was not considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia until 2013.
Until 2013, any drink with an alcohol content under 10% was simply considered to be a “foodstuff” rather than an alcoholic drink. Basically, beer was just a regular addition to anyone’s grocery list and could be bought at kiosks and local stores across the country as easily as fruit juice. Can you imagine?
15. Almost all fruits contain a small amount of alcohol.
This applies to the majority of vegetables as well. You’re not going to get wasted by munching on apples, but the alcohol is there!
16. “Oenophobia” is the fear of wine.
17. Conversely, “cenosillicaphobia” means being afraid of an empty glass.
Although the legitimacy of this word is still debated–it doesn’t make its way into any of the major English dictionaries–”cenosillicaphobia” is used to describe a fear of empty glasses. I’m pretty sure that half of the people on my college campus suffer from this based on the way that they go out four nights a week.
18. It’s against the law to ride a cow while drunk in Scotland.
There go my vacation plans for my theoretical future trip to Scotland. Seriously, though, which drunk person in the 1800s inspired this rule?
19. There’s plenty of alcohol available for the aliens.
In 1995, British scientists analyzed the interstellar gas cloud G34.3 and computed that it contains enough ethyl alcohol to make 400 trillion pints of beer. Space party, anyone?
20. Scientists are working on something to help people sober up quickly.
By injecting drunken mice with nanocapsules that contain enzymes that play a vital role in alcohol metabolism, researchers have been able to reduce their blood alcohol levels. Here’s the English, non-sciencey translation: scientists can sober up mice pretty fast. One day, there might be something on the market that humans can take to sober up quickly, but we aren’t quite there yet.