Alcohol the Cause of Your Hangover

Is Mixing Different Types of Alcohol the Cause of Your Hangover?

You are probably already familiar with this common expression,  “beer before liquor, never been sicker.” This is a warning that you should not mix different types of alcohol. But is there any evidence to support this saying? Simply put, there is none.

It is not true that blending different types of alcohol makes us more intoxicated or hungover. According to research, mixing different types of alcohol does not cause hangovers. Most experts agree that the volume of alcohol consumed is more important than the type or method of intake.

Why? Well, the true culprit here is ethanol. Whether you mask it in the subtleness of beer or have it in high amounts in drinks like tequila, the chemical composition of alcohol remains unchanged regardless of the form in which you ingest it.

Nonetheless, a psychological factor is at work here. Studies have supported this claim in research where people drank spirits, wine, and beer in different sequences.

Researchers discovered that those who drank spirits before beer got drunk quickly, which made them drink less, thus lowering their risk of becoming ill.

Those who started with beer did not get drunk quickly, so they chose to go for more hard liquor since they wanted to get more drunk. They had hangovers after. However, this has nothing to do with mixing different types of alcohol because it is just an issue of less or more ethanol.

Effects on the Body

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that impairs brain function. Mixing different types of alcohol makes you more inclined to consume more alcohol. However, alcohol’s effects when you mix different types will most certainly be more severe, akin to drinking more of a single type of alcohol.

Most alcoholic drinks include ethanol, which is responsible for the majority of the physiological effects of alcohol. Various compounds in various alcoholic drinks have contributed to the widespread belief that mixing different types of liquor is risky. The most common unwanted effect of alcohol is getting a hangover.


A hangover occurs when you consume more alcohol than your body can manage. Some alcohols are more prone to cause a hangover than others due to the congeners they contain. Congeners are either introduced or created during the fermentation process.

Congeners such as methanol and furfural do not exist in all forms of alcohol. Therefore, consuming different types of alcohol may result in inadvertently ingesting a bigger number of congeners. This high number of congeners can lead to:

  • Nausea
  • Hangover
  • Dizziness

If you experience problems controlling your alcohol consumption, you can seek professional help from an inpatient drug rehab in New York. Professionals are aware of the effects of alcohol and can provide actionable steps towards recovery. They can also educate you further on the harmful components of alcohol.

This information is helpful when trying to overcome the effects of alcohol on your body. So, what are congeners in detail?


Congeners are physiologically active compounds that arise spontaneously during the alcohol production process. They are formed explicitly during the fermentation and aging processes.

They are in charge of alcoholic drinks’ scent and flavor. Despite this, some studies indicate that congeners may exacerbate hangover symptoms.

Types of Congeners

The different types of congeners include:

  • Methanol- When you break methanol down, you create formaldehyde and formic acid. The highest concentrations are in dark liquors.
  • Furfuryl- inhibits yeast metabolism.
  • Tannins- are antioxidants found in wine.
  • Fusel oil- is a byproduct of the distillation of alcoholic spirits.
  • Acetaldehyde- is a poison formed during the breakdown of ethanol.

Types of Alcohol With The Most Congeners

In general, darker-colored liquors have the highest amount of congeners. Spirits that have been filtered and purified, such as vodka and gin, have the lowest amount of congeners.

Bourbon has 37 times the amount of congeners in comparison to vodka. Congeners grow and build over time, and barrel-aged alcohol will contain many more congeners.

On the other hand, vodka is routinely filtered multiple times before distribution, removing a considerable proportion of contaminants and congeners.

Effect of Mixing Congeners on Hangovers

In a study, researchers gave American college students either bourbon and Coca-Cola, vodka and Coca-Cola, or a placebo consisting of Coca-Cola mixed with tonic and some bourbon or vodka to give it a similar taste as the real thing.

They had consumed enough alcohol to have 0.11g/100ml of alcohol concentration in a breathalyzer. Despite performing equally well on the examinations, people who drank bourbon and then took a battery of tests had considerably worse hangovers.

The fundamental problem with these studies is that they cannot wholly duplicate a night out; for example, people never consume as much alcohol as they would generally since researchers cannot allow it. It’s impossible to explain why three drinks strongly affect us one night but not the next.

There are endless options. However, it is unequivocal that alcohol mixing is not the reason for hangovers. Congeners may play a role in hangovers but not in levels of intoxication. When it comes to the amount of alcohol drank, whether wine, beer, or spirits, quantity is everything.

Mixing congeners will result in hangovers and other effects of alcohol. However, that is nothing compared to mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

Energy Drinks

The growing popularity of energy drinks has spawned a new nightlife trend: mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Even if the negative effects of energy drinks are already alarming, combining them with alcohol creates a potentially lethal cocktail. This is major because of the caffeine in energy drinks.

Caffeine and Alcohol

The energizing elements of an energy drink will counterbalance the sleepy effects of alcohol, giving consumers the impression that they are more conscious and less impaired than they are.

Being intoxicated and wide awake could be dangerous. Although the caffeine spike from the energy drink may make people feel more awake, the body still feels the impacts of alcohol.

People frequently consume substantially more alcohol than anticipated without realizing that their judgment and coordination are impaired.

Effect of Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Researchers discovered that combining alcohol and an energy drink generates a false sense of security, making people four times more likely to want to drive home drunk and three times more likely to binge drink.

Mixing alcohol and energy drinks makes you more likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning, risky behavior, and caffeine overdose. Caffeine overdoses are uncommon, but they can occur and can be fatal.

Caffeine overdose symptoms include:

  • Jitters
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stress causes nausea.
  • Cardiovascular arrhythmias
  • Fever
  • Seizures with chest aches
  • Hallucinations
  • Breathing issues due to vomiting

Exceeding the recommended daily caffeine intake of 400 mg may result in these unpleasant side effects, which are substantially more common when combined with alcohol.

So, What’s the Bottom Line?

If you drink beer first, then liquor, you will almost certainly become more intoxicated than if you started with liquor and felt its effects sooner. You could have appropriately concluded that combining the two types of alcohol in that order caused your illness. However, the amount of alcohol you consumed is what caused the after-effects.

Regardless of your drinking habits, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of being ill or suffering from a hangover. Food, for example, will absorb a portion of the alcohol, preventing it from entering the bloodstream directly, and also may avoid severe stomach trouble. Drinking alcoholic beverages in addition to water or juice will keep you hydrated and allow you to consume less alcohol overall. It is important to drink responsibly and seek help if alcohol is hindering your life.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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