Ask Drink Planner: beer before liquor

Ask DrinkPlanner is a reoccurring feature here where readers submit their questions, and the crack team at DrinkPlanner does our best to answer. Got a question about booze? Ask us!

Time for this week’s Ask DrinkPlanner, it’s a classic question that deserves attention.

“Hey DrinkPlanner,

First off, I love the site. Keep up the great work!

Now, I need you to settle an ongoing internal debate for me. We’ve all heard “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.” My question is a two-parter

a – is that saying really accurate? and
b – how does wine play into the mix? How does wine before/after beer/liquor work?


-Two for the Price of One”

I’m not sure it’s fair sneaking two questions in at once, but I’ll take a crack at it. Luckily, your two-parter can be answered all at once. The answer: No. Though there is a bit of a stipulation, so I’ll go ahead and explain.

As you may remember from our Ask DrinkPlanner from a few weeks ago concerning wine and hangovers, alcohol is alcohol is alcohol. It is, at its core, all ethyl alcohol and whether it’s beer or whiskey or Bailey’s Irish Creme, it’s the same chemical compound taking your liver for a drive to Makeout Point. Here’s a nutritionist and a pharmacologist to back me up (thanks nerds!). So in that sense, drink whatever you want in whatever order you want, the only thing that’s going to affect your level of drunkeness is the total alcohol quantity. That being said, alcohol isn’t the only thing that can make you hurl.

The stipulation is that whatever you’re mixing together -meaning the non-alcoholic components of your drinks- if you choose poorly in what you throw down your gullet with your booze, it can most certainly make you ill. If you have a bunch of fruity Tiki-style drinks at O’Charleys, then go back to your buddy’s place and start playing beer pong, throw a few shots of Bailey’s and Jaeger in there, a rum and coke or two…by the time you’re all pounding shots of warm pinot grigio (because that’s all that’s left) you’ve already signed yourself up for a ticket to Barftown, population: you. It has nothing to do with the alcohol at that point (though it could, depending on your tolerance), but with the Mish-Mash Stew you’ve concocted in your stomach.

So be smart. Know your limits, and while it seems basic to remember what you’ve been drinking, sometimes it can be easy to forget in the heat of a party what all you’ve had to drink. I’ve been at a party, plowed and nauseous, and thought to myself “There’s no way I should feel like this! All I’ve had to drink is…uhh…hmm…ohhhhhh. Oh yeah, I DID have a…and then the…was that goat’s milk in the…? Nevermind, you were right stomach and brain…carry on!”