This morning, when there will be many delicate and sore heads around the world after the drinking of last night, scientists have confirmed something that we have all suspected for a long time: the effects of alcohol may depend not only on the volume drunk but also the type of drink consumed.
There is growing evidence that people can change their mood by choosing the right drink. A series of studies have been made on molecules called congeners that are found alongside alcohol. They vary according to the type of drink and mixer. One study found that the congeners that seep into whiskey from the wooden flasks where the drink matures can block the action of the enzymes that break down the alcohol, so the older the whiskey, the longer it takes the body to process and get rid of it.
New Scientist Magazine recently published findings of research where drinkers were tested for aggression after they had drunk vodka or bourbon. The results were that the vodka drinkers were far more aggressive.
Bristol University in the UK found in a study that mixing alcohol with caffeinated drinks improved the reactions of drinkers initially, but could mean that people ended up drinking more and for longer, leaving them more drunk.
Of course the placebo effect may be at play here, making people feel exactly how they think they should feel and there is no doubt that the pharmacological and psychological effects on the brain require much more research. But it is fun to think that we can choose our mood or the length of our hang-over by choosing which drink we have.
Of course all this information will not help you headache today…