The saying “beer before liquor, never sicker” refers to the idea that consuming alcoholic beverages in a particular order will reduce the risk and severity of a hangover. However, the order of consumption does not necessarily influence a person’s hangover.

A hangover describes the symptoms someone may experience the day after drinking alcohol. These symptoms may include headaches, dehydration, and nausea.

The amount of alcohol a person drinks has a more significant effect than the type of alcohol they consume. To reduce the risk or severity of a hangover, people need to drink less alcohol, regardless of the type.

This article explores the origins of the saying “beer before liquor, never sicker.” It examines whether drinking order matters and offers tips to prevent a hangover after drinking.

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The traditional myth “beer before liquor, never sicker” has many variations. According to a 2019 study, this saying occurs in many different languages and may originate from old folk wisdom.

The saying suggests drinking liquor after drinking beer can cause someone to experience more extreme hangover symptoms. However, modern research has disproven this myth.

The above 2019 study examined the effect of beer and wine consumption in various orders and combinations among 90 adult participants to investigate the truth behind this saying.

However, the study’s results suggested that drinking order and type of alcohol did not influence hangover severity.

Many people know and believe the above saying. However, research, such as the above 2019 study, suggests that the order in which someone consumes beer and liquor does not significantly affect hangover severity.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, certain compounds in alcoholic beverages may affect the severity of hangover symptoms.

Dark spirits may contain higher levels of congeners, a compound that occurs due to fermentation, which could worsen hangover symptoms. Some people may also experience headaches after drinking wine due to sulfites, a preservative.

However, hangover severity relates to the amount of alcohol a person consumes, regardless of the type of alcoholic beverage or the order of drinks. Other factors that can contribute to hangover symptoms include:

The only way to completely prevent a hangover is not to drink alcohol or to drink in moderation. Ultimately, only time will help someone recover from a hangover.

However, the following tips may also help a person prevent a hangover:

  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can lead to hangover symptoms. Alternating between alcoholic beverages and water may help maintain hydration levels.
  • Avoid rounds: Rounds of drinks might make it harder to drink in moderation or to control alcohol consumption.
  • Drink in moderation: Adhering to recommended alcohol consumption guidelines is essential. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025, adults of legal drinking age need to limit themselves to 2 alcoholic drinks daily for males or 1 alcoholic drink daily for females.
  • Make informed drink choices: While the saying focuses on beer and liquor, the type of alcoholic beverage matters less than the overall alcohol content. Opting for drinks with lower alcohol content may reduce the risk of a hangover.
  • Prioritize sleep: Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, contributing to grogginess and fatigue the next day. Sufficient rest after drinking may reduce these effects.

Below are answers to common questions about alcohol consumption and hangovers.

Is beer better for you than liquor?

A 2017 survey suggests different alcoholic drinks may have associations with different emotional states. A higher percentage of survey respondents reported feeling confident, energized, and sexy when drinking spirits in comparison with beer.

However, a higher percentage of respondents also reported feeling aggressive, ill, tearful, and restless when drinking spirits in comparison with beer. Beer was more likely to cause tiredness and relaxation.

Neither beer nor liquor is inherently better for hangover prevention. What matters most is the total amount of alcohol a person consumes. Responsible drinking and moderation are key, regardless of the choice of beverage.

Does mixing beer and liquor make you more drunk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a single 12-ounce (oz) beer has the same amount of alcohol as a 1.5-oz shot of liquor.

Mixing different types of alcoholic beverages does not necessarily result in increased intoxication. How drunk a person feels primarily depends on the total alcohol intake, regardless of beverage mixing.

Why does beer give me a worse hangover than liquor?

People who are sensitive to sulfites and drink a beer containing this preservative may experience symptoms, such as a headache, after drinking.

However, hangover severity can vary depending on factors such as alcohol tolerance, hydration levels, and personal physiology. Reducing alcohol consumption is the best way to avoid a hangover.

Despite being widely popular, the phrase “beer before liquor, never sicker” lacks scientific evidence to support the idea that drinking order influences hangovers or how quickly a person might feel drunk.

No matter what drinking order someone chooses, people need to drink in moderation to reduce hangover severity and minimize the risk of health complications relating to excessive alcohol consumption.

To prevent a hangover, a person needs to stay hydrated, reduce alcohol consumption, and get plenty of sleep. People who have concerns about drinking alcohol can talk with a doctor for advice.