Beer Before Liquor: Fact or Fiction?

Medically Reviewed on 7/28/2022
Beer Before Liquor: Fact or Fiction?
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that drinking beer before liquor or any other alcoholic beverages in a specific order will worsen a hangover

When it comes to preventing a hangover, you may have heard the saying “beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.” 

However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that drinking beer before liquor or any other alcoholic beverages in a specific order will worsen a hangover.

How did the saying originate?

The beer before liquor saying has been around for a while, although it is unclear exactly how it came about.

According to one hypothesis, clear liquor can spike blood alcohol levels faster than beer. Therefore, starting the night with beer but finishing with liquor may push you over the edge and lead to a worse hangover the next day.

A more scientific explanation for the theory is that different types of alcohol contain different amounts of congeners, which are compounds that can increase hangover symptoms. Clear beverages, such as vodka and gin contain fewer congeners than darker drinks, such as brandy, whisky, and rum. So if you drank darker liquor in the evening, you are more likely to have a hangover the next day.

Does drinking order have any effect on hangovers?

Drinking beer before liquor or vice versa is unlikely to impact your likelihood of developing a hangover. 

This is because studies suggest that alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream as soon as it hits your stomach. Therefore, drinking beer after liquor or the other way around does not matter if the total amount of alcohol you consume is the same.

There is no evidence that mixing drinking types or switching the order of alcoholic beverages have any impact on hangover severity. Limiting your overall intake is your best bet to ward off next-day hangovers.

What factors can increase the risk of a hangover?

Multiple other factors influence your risk of a hangover the next morning. Among these, the most notable one is the amount of alcohol consumed. Others include:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed: Heavy drinking is more likely to lead to a hangover effect.
  • Frequency (how often you drink): Repeated heavy drinking can increase the severity of hangovers.
  • Amount of congeners: These compounds can contribute to hangovers, and some alcoholic beverages contain more congeners than others.
  • Whether you ate: Drinking on an empty stomach can cause rapid absorption of alcohol from the stomach to the intestines, effectively raising blood alcohol levels.
  • Smoking: Smokers are at a greater risk of experiencing hangover symptoms compared to nonsmokers.
  • Genetics: Your genes can play a significant role in the way alcohol is metabolized in the body, affecting blood sugar levels, blood vessel dilation, sleep, and hydration.


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Medically Reviewed on 7/28/2022
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