Do Different Types Of Alcohol Get You Different Types Of Drunk?

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.

  • Tequila Makes You Wild Only Because You *Think* It Makes You Wild
    Photo: Shutterstock

    Tequila Makes You Wild Only Because You *Think* It Makes You Wild

    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.

  • Alcohol Just Amplifies Your Current Mood
    Photo: Shutterstock

    Alcohol Just Amplifies Your Current Mood

    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.

  • Drinks Trigger Memories, But They Don't Create Emotions
    Photo: Shutterstock

    Drinks Trigger Memories, But They Don't Create Emotions

    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.

  • Ethanol Is Ethanol, No Matter The Alcohol Type
    Photo: Shutterstock

    Ethanol Is Ethanol, No Matter The Alcohol Type

    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.

  • Whiskey's Uniquely Rowdy Effect Isn't Real
    Photo: Shutterstock

    Whiskey's Uniquely Rowdy Effect Isn't Real

    There's a pervasive falsehood in drinking culture that whiskey tends to make one rowdier than other drinks. Maybe you pick up a bottle of Jack and think tonight's a fighting night. Well, it isn't the Jack - it's just your expectations.

    A study done at Brown University tested the effects of bourbon and vodka on mood. A group of patients was given one or the other for nine days. The results were an increase in hostility, anxiety, and depression across the board, but there was no real difference between the bourbon and vodka drinkers.

  • It's Not About The Order You Drink; It's The Speed And Quantity
    Photo: Shutterstock

    It's Not About The Order You Drink; It's The Speed And Quantity

    You've likely had a night where you went from beer to hard liquor and spent the next day as a detective trying to piece together the events of the previous evening. Conventional wisdom indicates you were fine until you switched to the hard stuff because, after all, liquor before beer means you're in the clear, while the opposite is not the case. In truth, none of this is accurate. 

    William Oswald, the founder of the Summit Malibu Treatment Center, has this to say about switching gears when you change alcohols:

    If someone were to be a full-on whiskey drinker, he would know exactly how much he can drink without getting too polluted. If he switches over to gin, it’s a different story.

    On top of this, you drink a shot quicker than you sip a fine rye whiskey; and you're more likely to feel ill if you down a bunch of liquor on a full belly of beer.