You may have a preference when it comes to picking poisons. Some people say ‘no way, tequila always makes me sick,’ or ‘I love being rum drunk’. While these are just common things for drinkers to say, it does make us wonder, do different types of liquor have different effects on your intoxication? In short, no. BAC is BAC no matter what alcohol causes it to rise. Alcohol is typically served in a “standard serving” at restaurants and bars. The standard serving of alcohol equals about 1.5 oz. of an 80 proof spirit (40% alcohol). It does not matter if the liquor is whiskey, gin, tequila, or rum. All alcohol has the same effect on the human body.
Picking Poisons: Is There a Difference in Alcohols?
While there is really no variation in how liquor hits your system, there is a variation based on how you take it. For instance, once you start mixing alcohol with juices, seltzers, syrups, and other “mixers”— your body can begin to react differently. So while BAC doesn’t vary based on alcohol, intoxication may vary based on what’s in the mix… One of the most serious “mixers” is Red Bull (or any other kind of energy drink). The combination of caffeine and lots of B vitamins with alcohol can cause people to have different types of reactions. Sometimes more severe.
Pick your proof
Another consideration is that not all alcohol will be 80 proof. When you order a cocktail, there may be a blend of 80 proof and 120 proof liquor. Even if the drink still has 1.5 oz. of liquor, the alcohol content will not be the same. When you ask yourself the magic question, ‘how many drink have I had’, remember to count both your servings and the alcohol proof when trying to determine whether to call that Uber or stay out longer.
Congeners in Alcohol
Finally, alcohol does contain a product called ‘congeners’. These are basically the leftovers from the process that creates alcohol. They can change an alcohol’s color and flavor. In some cases, your body could be sensitive to certain congeners. So, it is possible that you may feel or act differently when consuming a certain type of alcohol based on how you process it.
However, congeners will not affect your BAC or the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. So next time you hear your friends say “I love being rum drunk,” consider that it’s not so much the alcohol, as it is maybe the mixer or the congeners. So, what we’ve learned is that when it comes to picking poisons, it’s all in preference. One versus the other isn’t going to make a huge difference in intoxication level.