Beer before liquor you’ve never been sicker myth

The saying goes “beer before liquor you’ve never been sicker, liquor then beer, you’re in the clear.” It means that if you drink beer and follow it up with liquor, you will get inebriated to the point of not being able to hold your food down and have an awful hangover the next day. However, if you drink liquor and then follow it up with beer, your alcohol buzz will be much more manageable and you won’t be unmanageably drunk and have a less painful hangover.

The science behind this saying is that moving on from beer, which has a low alcohol content, to liquor, which is usually forty percent alcohol, shocks the body. The sudden inflow of a high proof spirit makes you drunk, dizzy and sick. Therefore, when you start off with liquor and move onto beer, which is lighter, your body is able to handle it better.

Psychological Factors

Before addressing this saying as true or false, let’s assess the psychological factors of alcohol consumption:

If a person is drinking beers, which are always served in larger amounts than liquor due to their lower alcohol content compared to liquor, it is quite possible that when the drinker moves on to liquor, he or she will be consuming smaller liquor servings at a faster rate because of already being inebriated and because of the smaller serving size of liquor. In this regard, the faster pace of consumption itself is what can make you “sicker.”

It should also be considered that after consuming a lot of liquor, people are just likely to not drink that many beers. After a night of binge drinking, people are likely to think that whatever they drank last made them sick. However, in reality, it was their total consumption of alcohol over the entire drinking session that made them sick.

What does science say?

Scientifically speaking, the type of alcohol you drink makes no difference. According to scientists and doctors, ethanol is ethanol and the only factors that decide what will and won’t make you sick, or how drunk you will get, is the amount of alcohol you consume, the pace at which you consume it, and the contents of your stomach while you are consuming it.


While it is not entirely clear how this claim started, experts say it may stem from the way certain alcoholic beverages are digested. Carbonated drinks like beer and sparkling wines, for example, tend to irritate the lining of the stomach, increasing the rate of alcohol absorption. Starting with beer and then adding wine or liquor may conceivably lead to intoxication more quickly.

However, in reality, that has little effect, said Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist at the New York University School of Medicine. What matters most, she said, is the amount of alcohol consumed and whether it is combined with any food, which slows absorption and minimizes sickness.

Author Bio:

San Francisco DUI Defense attorney Aaron Bortel is committed to provide dedicated legal representation for DUI cases in California.

Get that Breathalyzer you’ve always wanted.
Sign up today for weekly tip and tricks for drinking smart. Get a full PDF Copy of our BAC Chart.