Whether you’ve thought trying every cocktail on the menu seemed like a “really cool” idea, or your friends bought you fourteen different types of drinks on your birthday, chances are you’ve woken up with the mother of all hangovers. While desperately scrambling for an aspirin, you may have wondered if you had broken the “beer before liquor, never been sicker” rule. Or you may have asked yourself if you should have just stuck to one type of drink…like water.
Of course, there is no shortage of tips, and myths, when it comes to drinking, and how to best avoid a skull-splitting headache and toilet-clenching nausea. One of the oldest rules in the drinking rulebook is to steer clear of having too many different types of drinks. Like, for example, switching from wine to beer, and then to martinis, before finishing the night off with some scotch and more beer.
But what if you’re headed out to a function where you know a nice selection of drinks will be served? Or, what if you’re a booze enthusiast, and you truly don’t want to limit your diet to “just a vodka on the rocks”? Can you reasonably have a variety of drinks in one night? Yes. Absolutely.
Don’t Drink the Bar Dry
One of the best ways to have an assortment of alcoholic beverages in one night is to listen to your liver and limit how many drinks you have. If you’re in the mood to try a few different types of beer, cocktails, or spirits, keep in mind that not every drink has the same alcohol content. While you may be used to having six bottles of the same lager and getting a nice buzz, things could go drastically different if you’re having six drinks with a lot more alcohol.
While certain drinks are more likely to give you a hangover later, the reality is that most people wish they could take a mulligan on last night, because they had way too much alcohol. And as far as the whole “beer before liquor” thing, studies show that there’s no truth to the expression. The reason people think it’s true is because they end up tossing back too much hard liquor, which isn’t exactly weak in the alcohol department.
Choose Your Booze Wisely
While limiting your drink intake to a decent number is a good way to avoid a nightmarish hangover, as well as remember the night’s activities, choosing the right kinds of booze is also key. So, if you’re hoping to sample a few different beverages during the festivities, there are some kinds of alcohol that are easier for your body to process than others.
Studies have shown that alcohol with more congeners are more likely to give you cause for regret the next day. Congeners are chemicals that are released into the liquor during fermentation, or are added during production to create certain flavors or appearances. The more congeners in the booze, the worse hangover you’ll likely get.
Typically, spirits that are darker in color have more congeners, like whiskey, tequila, or red wine. For example, according to one study, bourbon has nearly 40 times more congeners than vodka. Bourbon might be a delicious liquor, but you may not think it’s so great when you can hardly stand the next morning.
So, if you know you’re going to sample a nice buffet of drinks, try to avoid having too many dark drinks and stick with things like vodka, gin, or white rum. Remember to factor in how much alcohol is in the drink. Although you may be drinking vodka and gin martinis, if they’re triples and have vermouth or other booze in them, you may still be hurting big-time tomorrow.
Avoid Energy Drinks
If you are planning to have a few different kinds of beverages, then whatever you do, don’t make them all ones that are mixed with energy drinks. Research has shown that the caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks don’t magically make the effects of alcohol disappear: they mask them.
So, while you may feel like you could go run a marathon even though you’ve tossed back several drinks, that doesn’t mean you’re not wasted. Sooner or later, the booze always wins out.
Drink Lots and Lots of Water
While your moronic friends might call you names for drinking water during a big night out, you’ll be the one who’s laughing the next morning. In case you didn’t know, one of the main causes of a hangover is dehydration as a result of your poor body trying to get rid of the alcohol. If you have a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage, the chances that you’ll be gasping for water all day tomorrow will be much less.
Have a Decent Meal
Before you head out and start drinking, make sure you have a decent-sized meal. Having food in your stomach is a good thing, as it will help your body absorb the alcohol that’s going to come later. Even having some snacks during the night is a good idea, as it will slow down how much booze your body’s being forced to deal with. In other words, the idea that you shouldn’t eat anything so that you’ll have “nothing to puke” is very, very wrong.