The effects of different alcohol
January 9, 2007 2:38 AM   Subscribe

Why does different sorts of alcohol affect you differently?

A few friends and I have come to the consensus that Wine has a more "loopy" drunk and whisky a more "brutish", or "lively" drunk. Perhaps more explination of the effects causing the affects of my friends and I are needed. Nevertheless, there definitely seems to be a major difference.
posted by Kudos to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Alcohol concentration would seem to be the simplest explanation, methinks.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:42 AM on January 9, 2007

My money's on congeners.
posted by flabdablet at 2:57 AM on January 9, 2007

Response by poster: Initially, that was my frist thought. However, i have slowly administered different types of alcohol to myself over a period of time, evaluating both the potency of such alcohol over a period of time, taking in consideration of weight, etc., (all those goodies brought to my attention from a 'Drugs in Amercia' class (courtesy of IU), and I find that differnt types of alcohol lead to a different type of drunk (read: Mood). Perhaps it is simply a relative disposition towrds such alcohol, but I'm inclined it has something to do with, (IANAD[and or scientist]) the chemical composition of such alcohol with myself (be it a chemical distinction or said disposition.
posted by Kudos at 2:59 AM on January 9, 2007

Response by poster: My reply was to Effigy2000's comment
posted by Kudos at 3:00 AM on January 9, 2007

Alcohol is absorbed by the small intestine. A sphincter lets the content of your stomach through to your small intestine, where it is absorbed, making you drunk.

I have heard that different types of alcohol tend to get let through that sphincter at different rates. Beer, for instance, having a low alcohol content, and high volume, gets let through bit by bit, making you gradually drunk.

Spirits, on the other hand, tend to sit in your stomach for a while, and when they do get let through, it lets through a big dash of lots of alcohol; instant inebriation. That's why you might put away three shots of tequila and feel fine. Then...suddenly...bam.

I'm pretty sure the sugar content of the drinks will have an interaction with how your body absorbs and processes the alcohol as well.
posted by Jimbob at 3:04 AM on January 9, 2007

I don;t know for sure, but whiskey makes me an insane megalomaniac about ten times as fast as the equivalent alcohol content of beer. YMMV.
posted by IronLizard at 3:16 AM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

(Or a sopping emotional mess, or both, depending on the night in question)
posted by IronLizard at 3:16 AM on January 9, 2007

Response by poster: In response to Jimbob's answer,

(1) Perhaps it is simply the concentration, and impact, implications thereof, which lead to my many differnt moods. But I am inclined to think otherwise.
-No matter the frequency, nor amount, of any such alcohol in any given situation, I feel different.

*If I were to take four shots of Jameson, I would certainly feel that bam jimbob is talking about. If I were to take the equivalent of wine, lets say in the practice of 'bonging' (read: not advisable) Iin such a way where as the sphincter would emit the same amount of alcohol as whisky I would get a differnt mood.

I am intrigued by the congeners as flabdablet mentioned, though, can cannot directly connect a cause between said congeners and my mood, as I shall call it. Iron lizard has directly hit on the "mood" I speak of.
posted by Kudos at 3:18 AM on January 9, 2007

Science* says it's basically psychological.

* Or, at least, the scientists interviewed by the Guardian.
posted by chrismear at 3:31 AM on January 9, 2007

Response by poster: Man, there needs to be an edit button on comments. I applogize for bad spelling and grammar and ideas presented in an unclear fashion,
posted by Kudos at 3:33 AM on January 9, 2007

I was actually looking for the article that chrismear posted.

It probably is psychological for the most part ('tequila just makes me want to take my clothes off!'), but for one I always wanted to know why red wine makes me incredibly sluggish and drowsy.
posted by wolfsleepy at 3:43 AM on January 9, 2007

That would be the melatonin, wolfsleepy.
posted by Jilder at 5:14 AM on January 9, 2007

No. Science* is full of shit in this case. At least for me, based on empirical evidence. It has much more to do with the poitn at which I actually realize I'm intoxicated. The slower the effect takes hold, the more I recognize it and attempt to counteract the worst. Liquor slams me quickly, with little chance to understand what's happening before I go off the deep end. But then, I drink seagrams straight (which is rare, to the benefit of all mankind).
posted by IronLizard at 5:39 AM on January 9, 2007

i don't know -- but i know that if you drink vodka, you won't care about not having an answer.
posted by white light at 6:06 AM on January 9, 2007

I'll second Jimbob. It's probably a mixture of absorbtion rate, psychology, and environment. Wine has a constant, gradual increase in drunkeness. You can drink a bit and get a nice buzz and warm feeling and then you can drink a bit more and you get more and more loose. And since you're usually drinking it in a social environment the end result is a kind of hypersocial, laid back, silly drunk. Spirits on the other hand do hit you like a ton of bricks producing a very strong, surprising drunk which literally knocks you off your feet. You also get way more drunk knocking back say whisky at a bar hop then you do with wine at a dinner.
posted by nixerman at 6:20 AM on January 9, 2007

"I applogize for bad spelling and grammar and ideas presented in an unclear fashion,"

Stay off the sauce, man.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:24 AM on January 9, 2007

Hasn't this been asked before? I can't find a link, though...
posted by inigo2 at 6:40 AM on January 9, 2007

Psychosomatic effects due to your previous history of consumption.

When you're drinking tequila shots, you're probably out with the boys for a rowdy night.

If you've got some fine scotch, you're probably sitting and relaxing.

If you're drinking mixed drinks, maybe you're at a dance club with the wife.

After a decade or two of this, it's natural to associate tequila with those awful days of rambunctiousness and insanity, scotch with quiet contemplation, and your favorite mixed drink with dancing and sex.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 6:46 AM on January 9, 2007

Carbonic acid is a mild vasodilator, so alcohol in carbonated drinks is absorbed faster.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:00 AM on January 9, 2007

I don't have an answer per se, but I just want to vouch for the OP's assertion based on my own experience. I would not say that I learned to drink in any way that would have led me to associate one type of alcohol with one type of activity...heck, those of us who started drinking as teens in the US often drank what was available, and that varied a lot. Sometimes it was beer, sometimes it was whiskey or gin or vodka from someone's parents' liquor cabinet. It sure as hell made a difference what it was, and it still does.

You could have a similar argument about the different types of hashish and bud that are available in koffeshops in Holland. No matter what you smoke, at the core it's about the THC, but the variety makes a huge difference.
posted by bingo at 7:43 AM on January 9, 2007

Your question assumes that different types of alcohol affect you differently. I would question your assumption. Alcohol is alcohol. You probably just drink the hard liquor faster.
posted by caddis at 8:11 AM on January 9, 2007

2nd Tacos' answer. No one does tequila shots at a nice dinner party (if you do, my email is in my profile) and you don't order a glass of wine if you're out looking for trouble, so it's mostly associative.
posted by sonofslim at 8:19 AM on January 9, 2007

and to tailgate on bingo's comment: drinking whatever i can find in someone else's liquor cabinet is still pretty strongly associated with passing out on the bathroom floor, for me.
posted by sonofslim at 8:23 AM on January 9, 2007

Apologies if I am repeating my previous posts. But part of it has to do with how much the alcohol has been distilled. I am guessing your question is not how drunk you get, which depends on the concentration but why it makes you groggy/hungover, etc. The higher number of distillation alcohol goes through to get rid of all the non-alcoholic element in the liquid, the less/shorter hangover you have. If you drink the cleanest alcohol, really expensive vodka, for example, no hangover. But if you drink cheap wine, which doesn't go through that much distillation, sometimes to preserve the flavor/taste, you have hangover.

Of course this also depends on the individual tolerance level as well.
posted by icollectpurses at 9:20 AM on January 9, 2007

I don't buy it. At least for me, a person who thinks tequila shots are appropriate in any setting (except in the car, of course!), the same tequila can have a very different effect depending on my mood, the rate and amount of consumption, or what I'm doing.

I've gotten beyond shitfaced and rowdy on nothing but tequila, and I've had quiet introspection out of the same bottle. Usually, the biggest effect is who I'm drinking with and where.

For new year's, I had about 3/4ths a bottle of Patron, and had a nice mellow drunk, while a couple of years ago, I had the same amount while I was at a bar with some coworkers and got rather..excited. At Thanksgiving, I had a couple of margaritas and was nearly as effected as I was by the much larger volume of straight tequila, just because of the people I was around.

In other words, your drunk is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one. (to bastardize the ending quote of back to the future pinball)
posted by wierdo at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2007

This thread and this one both have some relevant commentary.
posted by inigo2 at 10:54 AM on January 9, 2007

When I was on a low-carb diet, I drank the lowest-carb of any drink I could come up with, which was vodka and sparkling mineral water.

It didn't really feel like being drunk, not the way I was used to. So, I say the feelings are partly to do with the other food groups you're getting along with the alcohol.

All other trace chemicals aside, there are vast differences in the amount of sugars you're taking in with your alcohol between different wines, beers, spirits and mixer combinations.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2007

I've never felt like the actual quality of 'drunkeness' is different from one alcohol to another, but I do feel different when drinking different things. It's the same way eating a twinkie feels different from eating a slice of baklava. There are great differences in textures and flavors and sensations and associations with different kinds of alcohol, and that's bound to influence how you feel.
posted by bookish at 8:38 PM on January 9, 2007

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