Is It Bad to Drink Different Types of Alcohol in One Night?

Party girl on the dance floor

You’ve been invited to a function or party. The host always has a well-stocked bar. There will be a massive selection of beer, wine, and cocktails and you can have whatever you want.

Here’s the million-dollar question. Should you stick with one type of drink for the entire evening?

Or, to ask the question another way…

Is it bad to drink different types of alcohol in one night?

Let’s unpack this question a little.

Alcohol by Volume: Comparing Beer, Wine, and Liquor

The first thing you need to understand is how beer, wine, and liquor stack up.

A standard serving of beer contains the same amount of alcohol by volume (ABV) as a glass of wine or a shot of liquor.

Comparison of alcoholic beverages

Each beverage contains the same amount of alcohol but there are some differences in how the drinks are consumed. Drinking different types of alcohol may not be the largest factor in determining how you’ll feel at the end of the night… or the next morning!

Let me explain.

Generally speaking, people will consume a shot of liquor in less time than a serving of beer or wine, especially if the liquor is served on its own – and not in a cocktail like gin and tonic or rum and Coke.

But, if you’ve downed half a dozen tequila shots over the course of half an hour, the fact that you’ve stuck with one type of alcohol won’t make you any less intoxicated!

With this in mind, we might logically conclude that drinking too many shots in too short a period of time isn’t a smart thing to do. But we still need to answer the question about drinking different types of alcohol.

Personally, I think your level of experience with alcohol plays a bigger role in how you’ll feel by the end of the night than what you’re drinking.

Party girls drinking champagne

The Real Reason Why Mixing Different Kinds of Alcohol Makes You Sick

Maybe you’ve heard this saying.

“Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear!”

It implies that if you start the evening off drinking beer then switch to liquor later on, you’re going to feel sick. It also says that if you begin the evening drinking liquor then switch to beer, you’ll likely be fine.

Anecdotally, I can see where this could easily turn out to be true.

Let’s break down both scenarios.

Scenario #1: Start with Beer, Switch to Liquor

Maybe you begin your evening out with some light social drinking. You’re enjoying a beer or two while engrossed in conversation with friends. Then, all of the sudden, someone suggests ordering a Long Island Iced Tea.

This even sounds like a bad idea, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider that a Long Island Iced Tea is made with almost four ounces of liquor!

There’s a strong possibility the night isn’t going to end well.

Scenario #2: Start with Liquor, Switch to Beer

In this scenario, let’s assume you’re enjoying one or two cocktails at a party. Maybe the bartender is being generous and has been serving you doubles – not that you’re complaining!

At any rate, you notice that the cocktails are hitting you pretty hard and decide to switch to beer and slow things down a bit.

With this scenario in mind, switching to beer after beginning the evening with cocktails, might be the most sensible thing to do.

So… Is It Bad to Drink Different Types of Alcohol in One Night?

Think about the two scenarios described above.

The first scenario could easily describe someone lacking experience with alcohol. An inexperienced drinker might not know how a strong cocktail like a Long Island Iced Tea is going to affect them.

The second scenario is typical of someone with more maturity and more experience with alcohol. The ability to recognize the early signs of intoxication often only comes with some experience making poor decisions.

In summary, I would contend that there’s nothing inherently bad about drinking different types of alcohol but you need to recognize when you’ve had enough to drink and call it a night.

By Michael

Chief mixologist and cocktail enthusiast at Swizzle Club.