Do different types of liquor have different effects on you?

liquor bottles 2Fact or fiction? Physiological or psychological?

What do you think?

I’ve been researching this topic lately and have been thinking about it ever since I got into the booze business.

When you talk to consumers, many have clear cut answers such as, “tequila makes me crazy,” “whiskey makes me angry,” “gin makes me sad, must be the junipers.” My favorite, that I found online, is… “I’m allergic to tequila. Last time I drank it, I broke out in handcuffs.”

Whether in focus groups or with friends, these beliefs are strongly held and generally tied back to a memorable occasion. Usually, it’s based on a particular episode of, ahem, being over-served or the maiden drinking voyage. But, misconceptions play a big role – there is nothing in juniper to lead to sadness and even if there were, the distillation process would eliminate it. Similarly, the agave plant from which mescal is distilled (tequila is a type of mescal) has nothing to do with mescaline.Alcohol is alcohol

Sorry folks, alcohol is alcohol. The differences one experiences from different types of liquor (and alcohol in general) have, in my opinion, little or nothing to do with the liquor itself. There are many other factors at work.

What about the congeners (the substance produced during fermentation of alcoholic beverages)? While red wine and dark spirits have the greatest amount, they are present to different degrees in white spirits. They also are more related to the morning after than getting you to slur, “I love you man” during an evening’s indulgence.

How about the mixers used as a possible explanation for the difference? Tequila is consumed as a shot half the time and with sugar laden margarita mixers the other half – do these play a role? Rum mixed with juices, sugar or cola can affect the impact. Maybe it’s the tonic in your G&T.

I think the culprit is the mood, occasion and situation you are in while drinking. If you’re planning to get hammered, or the situation calls for it, you will. If it’s been a tough day and you’re looking to unwind and mellow, what you choose to drink will have that result.

mixedSo, in effect, it’s in your mind rather than in your glass or bottle.

Here’s something that sums it up. I found it online at io9, a blog by Gawker media:

…The question of whether mixers or congeners affect our experiences with different alcohols seems almost inconsequential; if you wholeheartedly believe that a tequila is your one way ticket to Bedlam, there’s probably not a whole lot that can be said to convince you – or your body – otherwise.

What do you think?


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  1. Do you think that the people in those New Jersey restaurants who drank the watered down booze or the substituted rubbing alcohol are justified in thinking about specific effects of their drinks? Waiting to hear your thoughts about this practice…and its implications for brands whose products were altered. Of course I’m also interested in your views of effects on the drinkers.

  2. Why is it that I can drink Crown Royal “till the cows come home” and remain affable and ambulatory, but when I drink Gin Martinis (made from most any brand), women have to hold their skirts down and Taxi drivers refuse to allow me in their cars.

    Many years ago, when I started in the spirits industry, someone suggested that I pick a brand from the portfolio and learn how to drink it and drink it exclusively. I think that he had the sense that one develops a tolerance for Brands over time. For whatever reason, I frankly think that’s so.

  3. Prior to Seagram acquiring Martell Cognacs, I would have to agree with your research. However, after the acquisition I seemed to have contracted the Cordon Bleu Flu upon occasion. Large headaches! Much fun.

  4. Having bartended for 15 years, I heard this tale so many times my face hurt from rolling my eyes. “Tequila makes me angry” “Vodka makes me dance.” I’m with you: when it comes to physiological effects, booze is booze.

    I had a regular who swore that Bushmill’s made him pinch girls’ butts. Turns out he was creepy regardless of what I served him, though I gave him creativity points for blaming it on just one particular brand.

    In my experience people tend to choose drinks according to their mood. This may be a sort of chicken and egg scenario, and people confuse which one came first. People say champagne gives them headaches, yet fail to realize they tend to only drink champagne when they are celebrating – and when they are celebrating, they overindulge. I could go on with similar stories for nearly every spirit I serve. Mood affects the drink more than drink affects the mood.

  5. Firstly i think all alcohol give a same effect but after reading your article i am surprised is it really.

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