Sometimes we make decisions by believing in old wives tales that often turn out to be myths or fables. Some actually believe they are true, but upon further investigation, it turns out they are complete misnomers. Raising the Bar Liquors dives into 15 of the most common alcohol myths and the real story behind the misconceptions.

Myth #1: Beer and wine are not as intoxicating as other mixed drinks.

Some people think that wine or beer will be less intoxicating than mixed cocktails, but that couldn’t be further from the truth and is an alcohol myth. An equivalent amount of alcohol is in all drinks, regardless of whether the drink is a glass of wine, a can of beer, or a shot of whiskey. Therefore a 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine, or one regular cocktail is equally intoxicating and has the same blood alcohol content.

Myth #2: Drinking coffee is a great way to get sober fast.

It’s a common fact that drinking coffee will help to sober you up right?  Wrong. Coffee does nothing to reduce your blood alcohol level (sober you up). Coffee might make you more alert but that’s about it. Alcohol will generally dissipate from your body at the rate of .015% per hour. If you drink coffee, you will still need the full hour to expel the alcohol by .015%. Gender, age, and weight also do not alter the rate. Ignore these alcohol myths, only time will dissipate the alcohol content.

Raising the Bar Liquor's debunks alcohol myths

Myth #3: Drinking alcohol can make you gain weight.

Alcohol packs in the calories, it’s true, but research has proven that consuming alcohol does not directly result in weight gain.  Alcohol is considered to be empty calories and may contain large amounts of sugar.  Because alcohol is an appetite stimulant, if you drink more than one to two drinks a day it can certainly increase your chances of weight gain.  On the flip side, lifestyle seems more likely to be the cause of weight gain for most.

Myth #4: Old Wine is the Best Wine

My grandmother used to always say that the best wine needs to age so that it can create a more robust flavor. In actuality, only 1% of the wine in the entire world is truly meant to be aged. White wines are one of those exceptions that should be consumed within the first few years of being bottled, with the exception of Chardonnay or Roussanne. These wines have a better shelf life between three to five years for Chardonnay and three to seven years for Roussanne. Finer white wines such as Chardonnays from Burgundy are best if aged between ten and fifteen years. Red wine doesn’t necessarily get better with age either, just different. If you like a big, bold, powerful wine, then you might want to wait. Some alcohol myths keep you from enjoying your delicious wine. But let’s face it, wine is meant to be enjoyed – not collected. 

old wine alcohol myths

Myth #5: “Beer Before Liquor, Never Been sicker”

One of the most common alcohol myths many people believe. You’re most likely experiencing a rough hangover due to the amount of alcohol you drink, but not because you drank the drinks in any particular order. It’s typical that people will start with beer and switch to harder liquor later in the evening, and for that reason, they think it was responsible for them getting sick. The reality is mixing two or more drinks together has no bearing on how intoxicated you may or may not get. And the order in which you choose your drinks does not determine if you will end up getting sick.  

Myth #6: Beer Drinkers get beer bellies

Beer drinkers can pack on the pounds, sure, but consuming anything in excess causes weight gain. A beer drinker’s stomach is an indication that he is overdoing it, certainly, but it isn’t necessarily beer. Beer bellies are derived from too many calories, but the source can be carbohydrates, sugars, or, yes, beer.

Myth #7: Eating a large meal before drinking will help you keep sober.

Drinking on a full stomach will not prevent alcohol from being absorbed into your bloodstream; it only slows the process. Eat and drink, but be mindful of your blood alcohol content.

Myth #8: I’ll just take one of those hangover shots. Those work, right?

Nope, sorry. There is no evidence that supports the effectiveness of the “hangover shots” seen in advertising. No matter how many vitamins are in the special elixir, it’s not going to cure your hangover. There is no basis to the argument that vitamins such as folate, B6 or thiamine help to accelerate the alcohol moving out of your system.

Myth #9: I can always get back to normal with a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit in the morning.

Most revelers and alcohol enthusiasts have their own version of what meal might cure their hangover or sober them up faster. It’s true that eating before drinking decreases the rate of alcohol from being absorbed into the body, which can result in a lower blood alcohol level. However, there is no evidence supporting the alcohol myths suggesting that any particular type of meal will get rid of your hangover.

Myth #10: Alcohol will kill brain cells.

You’ll have the same number of brain cells after drinking as you had before starting. You might feel foolish and hungover the next morning, but not because alcohol killed any of your brain cells. Alcohol has no relation to the lifecycle of your brain cells. In fact, researchers report that red wine can actually help the brain by preventing dementia in a person’s later years.

Myth #11: The sulfites in a glass of wine gives me a headache. 

Although this is a popular theory, it isn’t based on any fact. Sulfites show up in all wines, including in wines that claim to have none at all. Sulfites are a part of the natural process of fermentation. They are also added to fight against microorganisms. Our government requires that winemakers print sulfite notices on their packaged beer as sulfites can trigger asthma and other allergies. Your wine headache, however,  is more likely to be due to the histamines in wine, but it isn’t certain and the debate rages on.

Myth #12: Alcohol keeps me warm in the cold weather.

Well, sort of. If you are warm and comfortable already, then alcohol might actually dilate your skin’s blood vessels and give the effect of warmth. But, if you are cold, the opposite of this alcohol myth is actually true. To preserve body heat, the blood supply to your skin is reduced and your body temperature will actually lower. 

Myth #13: Sucking on a penny helps to beat a breathalyzer test.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Some of these alcohol myths would be a lifesaver. But no, putting copper under your tongue will not help you to pass a breathalyzer test. Neither will breath mints, herbs, chocolate, charcoal, or any other snake oil.

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Myth #14: An aspirin before drinking will prevent a hangover.

Sorry, but aspirin won’t prevent you from getting a hangover. In reality, an aspirin will actually increase the speed and intensity of your intoxication. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, popping an aspirin or any other pain reliever before taking a drink of alcohol will actually increase your blood alcohol content by up to 26%, keeping the alcohol in your bloodstream longer.

Myth #15: The darker the beer the higher the alcohol content.

The color of your beer has no bearing on the amount of alcohol in the brew. Light and dark beers can easily be high in alcohol equally.

So here’s a good piece of advice for all of us. Instead of believing all of the alcohol myths and wives tales when enjoying a few drinks with friends at the local pub, let these myth busters be your guide. As long as people gather in the local bars, there will be wild stories, but there’s no reason to let your imagination jump off the deep end. Visit Raising the Bar Liquors for all of your craft beer, unique wines and spirits needs! Cheers.