I don't get it--isn't alchohol just alchohol?

It would make sense to me if it worked like this: X amount of alchohol will get you this drunk, and give you Y badness of hangover. But I always hear people talking about how ‘this drink will buzz you quickly (versus other stuff with same alc content), the expensive stuff will get you less hung over, don’t drink two kinds of alchohol–bad news.’ and so on.
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So: are there different kinds of alchohol?

There ARE different kinds of alcohols, because (from what I remember from 1st year chem) alcohols are just a class of organic chemicals (with a phenol ring, maybe?)

But what’s more pertinent here is the fact that different kinds of booze have different nasty impurities in them… but I’m sure someone who knows more about it will come along shortly.

Cecil on congeners, histamines, sugars, etc.

Just to expain KarmaComa’s point a bit more: in chemistry methanol, ethanol, propanol, and a whole family are called ‘alcohols’ but the one in all alcoholic drinks is ethanol, which is colloqially called ‘alcohol’.

Different effects of drinks must (if they exist) come from the non-ethanol, non-water parts of the drink (though the proportions of those two makes a difference :D). Though iirc methanol might pop up as an impurity.

ALl drinking alcolhol is ethanol - CH3CH2OH. Phenol is another type, as is methanol (found in antifreeze), propanol (isoporpyl alcohol is rubbing alcohol) and many many others. Basically an alcohol is a molecule with an -OH group on it.

There are nasty side effects of drinking non-ethanol alcohols. You’ve probably heard of kids having serious liver damage, or blindness, or death from consuming antifreeze. Ethanol is the only “safe” alcohol to consume to get a buz.

As for who you get a hang over, it is strongly related to dehydration, as well as how well your body can metabolise the alcohol you consume. There is a limit on how rapidly you can degrade ethanol, and consuming too much can cause illness because you can’t get rid of it fast enough.

I’m not sure why different alcoholic drinks mix badly, although I do suspect that it has to do with the other components in the drink. Beer has a lot of carbohydrates in it, which requires your body to break it down differently than wine, for example. Mixing the two likely requires your body to pump out many more degratory proteins than usual, thereby putting stresses on your liver and body biochemistry, which make you feel ill. This is a bit of a WAG, though, so take it with a grain of salt. Although if you’re going to be drinking a lot, take in a lot of water too, since metabolism of ethanol dehydrates you, and that WILL give you a head ache.

Carbonation slows down the rate at which alcohol enters the bloodstream, which is why you’ll notice that a Jack and Coke doesn’t hit you for a while, whereas a shot of Jack hits you before you put down the damn shotglass… thus, if you wish to keep your head on straight, use carbonated mixers.

What is a degratory protein?

I’m not sure that’s correct. Many folks find that champagne hits them faster than non-bubbly wine of equal strength. Have you tried a Jack and water?

I’m afraid you’ve got that quite backwards. Carbonation speeds the absorbtion of alcohol into the blood.

From here: http://www.amsa.org/resource/natlinit/alcohol.cfm

“Another factor that facilitates the absorption of alcohol from the small intestine is whether the
beverage mixer consumed with the alcohol, or the alcohol itself, is carbonated or not. Carbonated beverages are absorbed more readily than noncarbonated beverages. The rapid intoxication produced by champagne, in contrast to a noncarbonated wine with an equivalent alcohol concentration, is due to the fact that champagne is carbonated.”

And from here: http://web.mit.edu/medical/alcohol/

“Avoid carbonated mixers or sodas. Carbonation
increases the rate of absorption of alcohol into
the bloodstream.”

The reason that mixers might “slow down” drunkenness is that they dilute the alcohol. However, since they also make it easier to slug down a lot of neurotoxin without having to deal with very strong flavors and the burn, they also make it easier to drink more overall. I’ll take longer to go through a shot of my favorite barrel-strength bourbon than my bourban-and-coke drinking brother in law will go through three shots of bourbon mixed with cola.

What’s the best drink to have if you are looking to get just the right amount of “happiness”?

What’s the best drink to have if you are looking for the minimum amount of hangover?

ChaosGod, your first question is very difficult to answer, b/c it varies from person to person. Weight, sex, tolerance, state of mind, what you’ve eaten, etc., will all impact how “happy” any given drink will make you.

Your second question is a bit easier; premium liquors are usually heavily distilled, which removes a lot of the by-products that can lead to ugly hangovers. So don’t drink cheap liquor.

Avoid alcohol that contains a lot of sugar, such as rum and bourbon. Also avoid sugary mixers.

Red wine has a reputation for leading to nasty hangovers, but I’m not sure if that’s factual or if it’s just b/c there are so many gut-rot “red wines” like Boone’s Farm that would make anybody ill.

But the best way to prevent a hangover that I know of is to drink large amounts of water, particularly before you begin drinking. Any liquor in sufficient amounts will lead to a hangover, and water’s your best defense.

Dr Pepper

!?!

Goldilocks sipped the first drink, and it didn’t make her happy enough, the second made her too happy, but the third was just right.

I don’t get it, do you mean the maximal amount of happiness? And anyway, is “happiness” while under the influence “real” happiness?

Don`t forget that Jack and Coke will have caffiene in it which will slightly counter the effects of the alcohol.

Another thing that makes a difference;

If you have one or two drinks in the early afternoon, and then take some time off, and resume drinking later that night you won`t get buzzed as fast and will probably be able to drink a little more that you would have otherwise. The reason is that your stomach produces certain enzymes which break down alcohol. Drinking earlier in the day will get those enzyme levels up - during the night session your digestive track will have a head start.

I’m guessing… yes.
Although it’s not permanent happiness.
And, of course, it’s not the same kind of happiness as, say, when you get lucky with the opposite sex, get a promotion, get a good grade in an exam, etc.
Those usually are preceeded by effort and pains.

On the other hand, “drunk” happiness is FOLLOWED by pain.

I think there are also psychological factors to consider. If you “expect” a certain kind of drink to get you drunk faster, then it will. Or, actually, you begin to act intoxicated before the alcohol is taking effect.

You can see this when teenagers are drinking. Because the main reason teenagers drink is to get drunk, you will see them starting to act drunk well before they’ve consumed enough to account for their apparent level of intoxication. For example, they’ll start talking louder after only one beer. I have witnessed teenagers slam down a shot of whiskey and then immediately start slurring their words. The alcohol can’t possibly have reached their brains yet, but because they think they’re supposed to act a certain way when they’re drinking, that’s how they act.

A good beer IMHO, but YMMV

Water, coke, and/or orange juice.

That may explain why I felt no effect on Saturday after drinking two shots of run mixed with Gatorade. (Yes, Faire folk can be strange, but that’s for another thread.)

From the standpoint of “I wanna get a bit buzzed” it was a waste of rum. Certainly wasn’t helpful to the liver either - the alcohol was in me, and was processed, but it just didn’t have any noticeable effect.

Sorry for the delay in getting back to this thread - I hadnt subscribed to it.

A degratory protein is a protein in your cells designed to degrade something. In the case of ethanol, alcohol dehydrogenase converts it to acetaldehyde (CH3C(O)H), which then gets degraded by another protein whose name I forget, etc until the final product is something your body can properly expell, or which is relatively non-toxic.

Alcohol dehydrogenase is not normally present in your body (at least not in high amounts). Consuming alcohol causes the protein to be created, so that it can destroy the alcohol now in your body. The presence of acetaldehyde will induce your cells to make more of the protein needed to degrade THAT, etc.

The overall biochemical mechanisms can get kind of complex, but thats the idea. When you ingest a foreign substance, your body has to put more energy into making the proteins it needs to destroy it, or to try and make it non-toxic, or to convert it to something it can use. Think of proteins as the workers in your cells - they have to be called in (made) before any work can get done. This requires time and energy, and often water, which leads to hangover effects of dehydration and other symptoms.