Alcohol Consumption Order?

Does beer before liquor make you sicker?

I see no biological reason why it should. It probably has something to do with lowered inhibitions making you drink more faster.

This is what I’ve always though.

I always suspected it was because people a few beers, then had a good buzz going, so they decided it would be a great idea to do a bunch of shots. The shots (which were probably more than the 1.5oz a shot is supposed to be), on top of the beer, drank in pretty rapid succession, would make you sick.

On the other hand, say you drank some liquor, got yourself nice and buzzed. You decide to switch to beer, but because a typical beer has only about 4-5% alcohol, and it’s more filling so you drink slower and drink less total alcohol, you’re not as likely to get sick.

I think generally it is believed that when you drink beer the alcohol is less concentrated and doesn’t get into your system as fast, so when you follow it up with a couple shots of tequila it all sort of hits at once, too late for you to control your intake.
Whereas in the reverse, after a couple shots, you may have a chaser of beer, but then the shots will hit you while the beer is just beginning to be absorbed.

A friend of mine was going to produce a documentary on myths related to alcohol consumption. I hope he can get funding and put it together someday…

In any event, one of the things he found during his research is that the saying isn’t even consistent. Some people have it that liquor before beer is what’s bad and others have it that beer before liquor is the problem. We thought it might be regional, but didn’t do anything formal enough to nail that down. So, even if the order does make a difference, half the people are wrong anyway.

A physician in my family claims that carbonated beverages open up the pylorus, causing subsequently-consumed alcohol to be absorbed faster. I’ve found a couple of mentions of this online, but no really solid evidence.

I’ve always seen it as being a carbonation issue. Even drinking relatively small amounts of alcohol, e.g., a glass of beer followed by a glass of wine, my stomach can get a bit upset. The other way around, however, works fine.

I think the other way around is more likely.

If the same amount of alcohol is consumed in the same time, the chronological order doesn’t matter. But if you start with liquor, you’re not yet full of liquids and can drink a lot amount of alcohol with a lesser total volume of liquid, in a short time. So you’re already drunk when you start with the beer, and still got a long way to go till the end of the party, and then things get worse…

I heard that 40% alcohol doesn’t absorb too quickly, but diluting it with 5% beer increases surface area (or induces it to descend into the intestine or whatnot) and bam it all hits you. Water would do the same thing.

In general, just keep track of how much you drink instead of basing thing on how you feel. There’s always alcohol in your stomach and you will get drunker than you are now without having to do anything.

the dutch saying - which for me has been true many a time - is: “wijn na bier maakt plezier, bier na wijn maakt venijn”. this pretty much means that drinking wine (or stronger drinks in general) after beer has good effects, while beer after wine can make you ill/have a stronger hangover. If I mix drinks it will always start with beer, then (possibly) wine and end up with the vodka or scotch.

The English translation rhymes, too: “Beer then wine and you’ll be fine, wine then beer and you’ll feel queer”. That’s ‘queer’ in the ‘old’ English sense, of course - I don’t think anyone claims that order of consumption can affect your sexuality :).

Personally, I always start with beer because other drinks have a sweeter taste, and I think beer after sweet stuff doesn’t taste as nice. I have no idea if this affects my wellbeing at all, but I think the idea posted in the first two responses to the thread is the most plausible.

I’d be shocked if there hasn’t been at least one academic paper published studying this; after all, most universities contain a large number of possible test subjects on site!

The American version I’ve heard is, “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear / Beer before liquor, never been sicker.”

I find that when I drink sweet alcohol - Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s hard lemonade, some of the sweeter flavored vodkas - I get a wicked headache the next day. I can drink almost anyone under the table, but 3 or 4 of these sweet drinks will just kill me.

Nothing to say about beer before liquor - I can mix these fine.


That’s god’s way of telling you, “Stop drinking that terrible shit and get a real drink.”

“Beer before hard, in the yard. Hard before beer, in the clear.”

A whole bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut followed by a few glasses of red wine? Pink puke.

My feeling – based on some experience – is that it’s a question of getting accustomed to drinking by volume. If you drink 32 oz of beer, you’re going to be used to gulping, so you start gulping shots and end up with way more alcohol than you planned. Wheras if you’re sipping whiskey, then get beers, you’re in a sipping habit and don’t end up drinking that much alcohol overall.
Alcohol intoxication only enhances the habituation effect, of course.