Any pro drinker knows that it’s clutch to avoid mixing your alcohols–and if you must, order matters. However, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just presented some scientific evidence that mixing the type of hooch you’re drinking really has no effect on hangovers.
“Everyone knows the saying, ‘Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine…’” said Kai Hensel of Cambridge University. “We thought there must be something in it, how can we test it?”
Maxims warning about “tactical drinking” actually exist in numerous cultures (and often in rhyming form.) For example, the English prefer, “Grape or grain, but never the twain”; the Germans suggest “Wein auf Bier, das rat’ ich Dir – Bier auf Wein, das lass’ sein”; and the French caution, “Bière sur vin est venin, vin sur bière est belle manière”.
The scientists led by Jöran Köchling, Berit Geis, Stefan Wirth, and Hensel sought to generate data aimed at debunking this pop advice on hangovers. To that end, they enlisted 90 test subjects for “a multiarm randomized controlled matched-triplet crossover open-label trial.”
Translated out of science-speak, this means that the subjects were split into three groups. The first group drank about two and a half pints of beer (donated by Carlsberg), then drank four large glasses of wine. The second group drank the same alcohol, but in the opposite order. Finally, the third, control group drank exclusively beer.
One week later, the test subjects returned and swapped the order. So, the control group drank only wine, the beer first group drank wine first, and so on.
NOTE: If this sounds like enough to booze to get a buzz on, that’s kind of the point. We’re talking about a hangover study after all! Yet, it’s worth mentioning that the research team was careful not to introduce any light-drinkers to the experiment as well as to monitor their subjects health throughout the process.
Anyway, the day after their drinking, each participant was asked to rate themselves on the, wait for it, “Acute Hangover Scale.” Mind you, this 0-56 hangover ranking is fairly subjective as a hangover can’t really be empiricized. For the sake of the study, subjects were asked to relay on common hangover indicators like vomiting, fatigue, and headaches.
When the results were all tabulated up, there were no significant differentiations between hangovers among the different groups. Science concluded that you’ll feel terrible the next day no matter what order you drink in.
“The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover,” said Jöran Köchling of Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. “The only reliable way of predicting how miserable you’ll feel the next day is by how drunk you feel and whether you are sick. We should all pay attention to these red flags when drinking.”