If you’ve ever made it through some part of college, you’ve heard the old addage “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear; beer before liquor, you’ve never been sicker.”
I am somewhat ignorant of things scientific (see Blog 1 for biological inquiries on the female orgasm, for example). It is not for want of knowing, but really for lack of studying. So today’s query goes to the chemistry side of things. Maybe it crosses over into biology as well. We’ll see as we go.
So I have to ask: where do hangovers come from? And why does drinking beer before liquor lead to painful recoveries, but not the other way around? And why does champagne give many people headaches?
Sure, alcohol is a poison, and we are ultimately poisoning our bodies when we drink (particularly in excess). But why do certain drinks react differently in our systems? Isn’t it all alcohol? Shouldn’t it all have the same effect?
I’m simple: beer gives me the worst hangovers, white wine the least. If I smoke cigars at any point while drinking, I’m guaranteed to be hugging the porcelain pot by the end of the night. Champagne is great–no headaches; and scotch makes me thirsty.
Years ago, friends would tell me they had “their drink”: the one they could drink all night long and never get hungover the next day. Rum and coke was a common one, vodka tonics and beer also made many lists. So I tried these. Definitely not “my drink.” In fact, it took me until my 25th year to find “my drink.” And it surprised me more than anything: bourbon. Bourbon is my all night long drink.
So why is it vodka for some, whiskey for others? And why is tequila generally accepted as the devil, having rendered many people unconscious over their drinking careers?
These are all things I pondered last night, martini in one hand and a prayer in the other for not being hungover today. At least one of those hands did its job last night: it’s 3 in the afternoon and I am just getting out of bed today (not counting the two prior times to hug that beautiful white bowl in my bathroom).
Cheers for another night.