Okay, let’s take the “cream seal” nonsense out of it.
Fact: Fat in the stomach slows absorption of alcohol.
Fact: It does NOT do this by creating a cream seal. So bullshit.
Okay. A reasonable rough guide I use in forensics is: for every standard drink, your blood level goes up by about 0.2 mg%; every hour, you metabolize about 0.2 mg%. So if you had a beer in your hand, and you nursed it to make it last most of an hour, you would never have a detectable blood level of alcohol.
(A standard drink is 12 ounces ordinary beer, 4 ounces ordinary wine, 1 oz ordinary spirits. You can see this is a very rough guide since beer and spirits can vary a lot in alcohol content. And wine can be fortified.)
(Totally irrelevant note: I’m very fond of Belgian beer myself, but I know well that two doses of twelve ounces each can knock you on your ass. Because it’s way higher in alcohol!!!)
Now. You go up by .02 for every drink and you metabolize .02 every hour. But you don’t absorb that drink in an instant. No sirree. You take about 15 minutes to absorb it on an empty stomach. About 30 minutes on a full stomach. About 45 minutes on a stomach full of fat.
Let us assume you cannot drive legally in your state at .08, and of course you would never do anything illegal. You’re at a restaurant with your friends drinking but not eating, just having fun, and you consume x beers in an hour. What value does x have if you are going to be legal when you leave?
If you have five beers, and you absorb them all before you leave, they will take you up to 0.10 in an hour. But in the same hour you will be metabolizing 0.02, so you will be at 0.08. Uh oh, illegal. Stay another half hour drinking water or soda to drop to 0.07, then you’re legal. Or drink four over the hour, .08, metabolize one, 0.02, down to 0.06, you’re legal.
Most of our DUI fatalities come in at the .16-.17-.18 range. At that level you have no judgement left, you feel like Superman and you are confident you can not only drive but drive better than you could before you were drunk, but you still have enough fine motor control to get that key into the ignition and turn it and turn the steering wheel. At .20-.22-.24, you might be too drunk to master the motions. I say “might” because a lot depends on whether you are a habitual drinker.
If you have five beers in an hour and you have a stomach (and proximal small intestine - the stuff moves on down) full of fat, you will still be absorbing the booze. You will just have an hour and a half to absorb the full .10. So you will metabolize .03. So you will top out at 0.07. You will not get drunker and you will not get a sudden wonderful alcohol high.
It is, however, true that bubbles with alcohol in them carry the alcohol more efficiently into your bloodstream. This is why champagne gets people giddy so fast. And why it has the joyous but faintly dangerous reputation it does.
If I dig into my books I can provide ponderous cites for all the above, but I’m drunk and at home and please don’t make me. Spitz and Fisher for everyone.