Everybody has that one drink they avoid, and there's usually some horror story attached to it as an explanation. Maybe tequila made you leave that embarrassing voicemail, or bourbon made you think you had the strength of 10 people. While these can be humorous anecdotes, the premise behind them is false. The fact is, alcohol is alcohol, and science states the idea of different spirits affecting you differently is a myth.
So why do six beers feel entirely different than two whiskeys? Why does it feel like the effects of red wine and vodka are nothing alike? Well, grab a drink, because you're about to learn the truth.
Remember that one time you took your shirt off at the bar and tried to fight a coat rack? You chalked it up to one thing and one thing only: the spicy, coy influencer that is tequila. Well, the fact is - and you might want to sit down for this - that infamous south-of-the-border spirit you blame for a series of blurry misdeeds has nothing to do with your inebriated behavior.
Several studies indicate any irrational behavior displayed after consuming a certain kind of alcohol is purely psychological; people subconsciously act in a manner they associate with a particular type of spirit.
In other words, tequila doesn't make you act wilder, you just think it does.
You've probably heard some variation of this exchange:
"Hey, why are you so smiley?"
"Lay off, dude, I'm wine drunk."
Yes, wine drunk, that famous state of inebriation where your big smile shows off your stained red teeth. But this seemingly ordinary experience is also a myth.
Different alcohols do not dictate your mood - they bolster feelings you already have. So if you're already happy, wine is going to make you really happy.
Maybe you've got that one drink that's your go-to when you've got the blues. Now and then, perhaps you like to sit down with your depressing beverage of choice and think about the one who got away. It's this line of thinking that leads to maudlin proclamations like, "Cognac always makes me cry."
But there is no drink that, on its own, is going to make you cry. What is possible, however, is memory association - the taste of specific alcohols can trigger memories.
It may be subconscious, but the next time you find yourself blaming your emotions on a particular type of alcohol, try thinking about memories associated with that drink. It's likely your memories, not the alcohol itself, are triggering an emotional response.
The reason different alcoholic beverages affecting you differently is a myth is quite simple: ethanol is ethanol. The type of alcohol in all spirits is the same - there are just different levels of it. Alcohol volume, sugar, and other ingredients make different drinks affect you at different speeds.
Drinking three beers is not the same as doing three shots of Everclear, but there is no structural difference in the alcohol contained in the two drinks.