Poll a group of bar patrons and you'll probably find that they have reasons for choosing one liquor over another, and not all of them have to do with taste. Wayne Curtis at The Atlantic found that most people believe drinking different spirits causes them to behave differently, with tequila having an especially bad reputation. Is this true?Curtis checked in with researchers and scoured scientific studies to find out if there is a physiological explanation for this common belief. Everyone he spoke with said no, that the ethanol in hard liquor is the same no matter what type of spirit you choose. (Wine, beer and liqueurs, however, may affect drinkers differently.)
A few studies looked at the trace elements in liquor, called congeners, which may affect our mood and behavior, but no conclusive studies have been made. The most logical explanation may be that we change how we drink depending on what we are drinking.
If a drinker slams tequila back in shots, then he'll get intoxicated faster than if he were gently sipping scotch. Presto: tequila gets a reputation. That leads to the issue of self-fulfilling prophecy. If people believe tequila makes them rowdier, they may opt for tequila when they want to be rowdy.
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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