Betty's Wine Musings

Is It Bad to Mix Alcohols?

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who told me that it’s bad to mix alcohols. I said that I hadn’t heard that. So, I decided to do some research. Here’s what I learned.


Is it bad to mix alcohols? Photo from ARK Behavioral Health
Is it bad to mix alcohols? Photo from ARK Behavioral Health

Some Experts Say It’s Not Bad to Mix Alcohols

Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital asks: “Is there any truth to the saying, ‘beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear’? This question is, of course, often confidently answered by friends (usually fellow drinkers) who draw on personal experiences. Most experts say that what matters most is the amount of alcohol you consume, not the order or form in which you consume it.”

They provide several reasons why mixing drinks can be problematic:

  • Drinking a bunch of different alcohols typically leads to consuming greater amounts of alcohol at a faster rate.
  • Drinking beer before liquor results in your feeling little effect from the alcohol, which might lead you to want to consume higher concentrations of alcohol.
  • Drinks that contain high quantities of congeners may increase hangover symptoms. Clear beverages like vodka, gin, and white wine contain less congeners than darker drinks like brandy, whisky, rum, and red wine. Mixing the congeners may increase stomach irritation.

Their conclusion: “No conclusive evidence exists to support or reject claims about the ill effects of mixing different types of alcohol.  The amount of alcohol consumed in a specific time frame is what largely determines how drunk or sick you may feel.”

ARK Behavioral Health likewise says that it’s the amount of alcohol that matters. They also talk about congeners, saying that “By mixing different kinds of alcohol, you may be unknowingly drinking higher amounts of congeners, which can lead to a more intense hangover, nausea, and dizziness the next day.”

LiveStrong also says that mixing alcohols is not a problem.

Some Experts Say It’s Bad

I only found one article that talks about it being bad to mix alcohols. And that was from Spoon University, who isn’t a fan. They recommend sticking to one type. But they also say that “when your friend tries to tell you that she was throwing up all night because she drank vodka and then shotgunned some beers, tell her the truth: it wasn’t because she mixed alcohols, it was because she just drank too damn much.”

Most of the articles I read talked about congeners being the only possible problem outside of drinking too much. So what’s a congener? According to Wikipedia, congeners are substances that include small amounts of chemicals such as methanol and other alcohols, acetone, acetaldehyde, esters, tannins, and aldehydes.

Do you mix alcohols? What do you typically mix, and how has your experience been?

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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