QM is a series by Kristin Robbio, where she aims to debunk common myths using her baseline knowledge of science, technology, and ability to strategically research random shit through Google.
My first drink was a shot of Bacardi that I chased with water during my first week of college, thanks to the peer-pressure of my freshman year suite-mate (sorry, Mom!). During the rest of my collegiate years my drink of choice was anything with rum. Today, when I occasionally order a mojito or mai tai, I simultaneously get an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and disgust.
This is a classic case of memory association, combining senses and emotions with past experiences. In the same regard, we have come to believe that the “type” of drunk we have is dependent on the type of alcohol we consume. For instance, some people will say gin makes them moody, while others will say that vodka makes them angry, but I’m here to burst your bubble with science.
Alcohol is alcohol is alcohol. Whether you’re drinking wine, beer, or hard liquor, each contains the same core chemical component – ethyl alcohol, or more commonly known as ethanol. The biggest difference between these three types of liquid courage is the concentration of ethanol present, but the elements in the drink that modify your otherwise sober behavior is virtually identical.
Although not much research has been completed on the subject, one notable study from 1970 analyzed the behavior among participants after drinking bourbon and then again after drinking vodka. The researchers determined no apparent difference in behavior between the two different liquors.
Now I’m not saying that whiskey sour you had Friday night will result in the same hangover as that glass bottle of pinot noir you consumed while watching Bachelor in Paradise on Monday night. The way each affects your physical body is different and thus you feel the physical differences several hours after consumption. But the way your brain emotionally perceives different alcohols and how they influence your actions is entirely in your head.
Therefore, this myth isn’t entirely false, but the way you may believe it to be true, is false. Tequila, vodka, gin, rum, etc. all physiologically effect you the same, but the mental associations you have created with different kinds of alcohol will very likely dictate your behavior. So next time you want to blame it on the alcohol for that crazy night when you danced on the bar, take a look in the mirror and know that it’s your own mind to blame.