Tequila makes me violent and vodka sneaks up on me like an evil assassin of drunkenness. Gin, on the other hand, turns me mean. We are convinced that different drinks produce different effects, yet, so far, science has failed to prove this.
â€œA lot of this is folk memories and cultural hangovers,â€ says Dr. Paul Clayton, pharmacologist and president of the forum on food and health at the UKâ€™s Royal Society of Medicine. â€œA lot of it depends on what mood you were in when you started drinking and the social context.
The idea that gin makes you unhappy probably comes from its nickname â€œmotherâ€™s ruinâ€ - the idea that it makes women depressed, which is a cultural idea. But fundamentally, alcohol is alcohol whichever way you slice it.â€
â€œAlcohol is a disinhibitor, it switches off the nerves in the frontal cortex â€” which tells us not to be an idiot or try to chat up the bossâ€™s wife at the Christmas party,â€ says Dr. Clayton. â€œItâ€™s activating, arousing, energising. Drinking alcohol with caffeine will be more of a stimulant. Until the alcohol knocks you sideways.â€
Guinness, on the other hand, is supposed to be good for you - a 1920s ad campaign said so. English hospitals fed it to patients after operations and blood donors were encouraged to drink it because it was thought to be high in iron. Even pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers were advised to drink it. One study, however, at Wisconsin University, found that Guinness contains antioxidants which help prevent blood clotting.
The â€œTequila wormâ€ is said to have aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic qualities and has been added to some bottles of mescal (tequila is a type of mescal) as a marketing gimmick since the 1950s. It is a mariposa worm, which feeds on the agave plant, which is what tequila is made from. Although it can soak up a little of the alcohol, it has no noticeable effect on people. It seems that the myth that eating the worm induces a druggy trip comes from confusing mescal with mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug.
Absinth is, however, 70 per cent alcohol and will make you dangerously drunk. Whether it makes you mean, or happy, or clever, or violent, well thereâ€™s no saying.