Exploring 6 Popular Drinking Myths

photo by Sean T. Evans
photo by Sean T. Evans

Legends, tall tales, good stories, myths...whatever you call them, the drinking world is full of them.  Here are a few favorites to debunk.

1. MYTH:  Beer before liquor, never been sicker - liquor before beer, you're in the clear. Beer after whiskey? Very risky. Whiskey after beer…no fear! TRUTH:  These are cute sayings, but not reality.  The percentage of alcohol in your blood, known as your blood alcohol content (BAC), is what determines how drunk you are.  It doesn't matter what type of alcohol you chose to consume, alcohol is alcohol.  More than your body can process can make you sick no matter what order you are drinking it in.  Consider that a 12 ounce beer generally equals drinking a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.

2. MYTH:  Dark beers are stronger in alcohol .

TRUTH:  The color of beer has nothing to do with its alcohol content.  People often mistake a beer like Guinness Irish stout for a “strong” beer when it actually has an alcohol volume of 4.2% compared to Budweiser’s 5%.  Many Belgian beers with a light color have alcohol content of 8% or more.

3. MYTH:  Sticking a spoon, handle side down, in a sparkling wine bottle prevents the escape of carbonation.

photo by LeNell Camacho Santa Ana
photo by LeNell Camacho Santa Ana

TRUTH:  Sparkling wine will keep darn well for a day or two under refrigeration even when left uncapped.  The bubbles in sparkling wine are carbon dioxide, a gas that's both inert and heavy.  After you pop that cork, the CO2 forms a layer on top of the wine that holds oxidation at bay and also helps to keep the remaining carbonation in liquid form.  This layer holds even better when the wine maintains a good chill.

4. MYTH:  If you shake gin in a drink like a Martini, you bruise it.

TRUTH:  Hearing good, big ice cubes in a metal shaker sure sounds like that gin is taking a beatin’, right?  Shaking a drink can end up diluting it a bit faster so perhaps this is what some folks mean by "bruising."  When you shake a drink, you also create little shards of ice.  I prefer my Martinis stirred to avoid those shards.  However, many gin cocktails are deliciously alive when shaken, such as an Aviation or Last Word.

5. MYTH:  A cold shower or a hot coffee will help you sober up faster.

TRUTH:  Neither showers nor coffees will reduce the alcohol concentration already in your blood. Cold showers and hot coffee can wake you up and make you feel a bit more alert, but time is the only thing that’s gonna sober you up.

6. MYTH:  Mixing watermelon and alcohol will cause death.  Yes, there are people who believe this.

TRUTH:  There’s no lethal chemical reaction with watermelon and alcohol.  Mixing watermelon with some types of alcohol results in summertime bliss!