Is "top shelf" alcohol healthier?

A friend of mine told me to always order “top shelf” drinks (e.g. A Top-Shelf Long Island Iced Tea) and said it helps her to avoid hangovers.

My questions:

  1. Is there any difference between good quality alcohols and low quality alcohols?
  2. My main concern is liver damage. Do top shelf alcohols cause less liver damage?

I’m not going to comment on the liver damage aspect (I wouldn’t know) But when I’ve drank cheap anything I am a LOT more likely to experience a hangover and painful head.

Which is strange, because knowing what causes the head pain, I’d expect ANY alcohol to do the same (dehydrate the brain, causing it to shrink, causing it to pull against the skull, causing pain)

Congratulations, you’ve discovered the placebo effect.


Next stop: Ceremonial Burial!


I guess if you’re talking about REALLY low-quality alcohol, then the contents might be suspect, i.e. shoddy ingredients standing in for what it says on the label.

But my WAG is that when you order top-shelf, it’s more expensive, and thus you don’t go on an all-out bender out of budgetary considerations more than anything else.

Say your friend has thirty bucks in her purse to go out with her girlfriends. If she orders something top-shelf at a fancy club, she can afford, what, two drinks? three? and still have enough for cab fare back home. But if she orders well drinks, she can afford to get good and hammered, thus ensuring a hangover the next morning.

I wonder how much of this is the psycological effect of assuming/anticipating the hangover after drinking the cheap stuff???

I almost never drink liquor (95% of my alcohol intake is in the form of beer) but I cant notice any difference (except for possibly the taste of the different brands of booze) whether or not its cheapo Popov Vodka or Ketel One, Makers Mark or Early Times, etc. when it comes to hangover or other after effects…

ETA—Looks like others have found the same seems to hold true with them as well.

Not in my case, because when it has happened I feel genuine surprise at how bad I feel, knowning that I’ve drank a comparable amount to the expensive stuff I would usually have consumed.
The worst hangovers are when I’ve drank Port.

Ok, FU everybody who thinks it’s the placebo effect.

I guess that everyone is different, but then again, I rarely get any hangovers from anything I drink, and since beer is almost always what I stick with, I am usually good to go in the morning after a night out…

(though today is my birthday, so I might have a couple of cocktails tonight, just for something a bit different)

Happy Birthday!

Good point.

I think there’s something to getting worse hangovers from drinking anything alcoholic that contains high sugar levels (like port wine or mixed drinks like Jack and Coke) due to increased dehydration. Just a WAG on my part, but that’s aways been my experience.

Also, I do believe that top-shelf liquours tend to have less impurities in them (another WAG).

Clear liquours are the “cleanest” in terms of impurities as a general rule of thumb.

Bingo. I hold an advanced certification in wines and spirits, and I was taught that the thing that often causes hangovers are the impurities. The more times something is distilled, the more pure it gets - and that extra processing also increases the cost, of course.

For people who note a sensitivity to Port and other sweet drinks, all I can say is that there are many things that can cause alcohol related headaches (besides mere overindulgence). Some people are sensitive to sulfites, other people to tannins, and the research continues over the exact cause of the ‘red wine’ headache. It could very well be a dehydration issue - I know I feel better the next day if I remember to drink water during the evening.

Higher quality alcohols costs more and you can’t buy as much.

Drinking less causes less liver damage. See answer to #1.

Bingo what? Name one “impurity” that could cause Hypoglycemia, dehydration, acetaldehyde intoxication, or vitamin B12 deficiency.

If you don’t know you should call Hollywood Upstairs Wine School and complain.


Water filter + cheap liquor = better liquor?

Vodka filtering at home?

IMO this is a very black-and-white answer which assumes the OP is stupid. The OP might have inferred ‘same amount consumed’.

In other words is [the same amount of consumed] top shelf alcohol healthier than the cheap stuff.

Any consumed amount of X% Ethanol will have the same effect on your body, regardless of brand.