Why Some Drinks Seem to Make Hangovers Worse 

Why Some Drinks Seem to Make Hangovers Worse 
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Just mention the word ‘hangover’ and people will recoil in disgust. Waking up with a pounding head and queasy stomach is a truly awful experience, and no matter how tasty the cocktail or how fun the night before may have been, the punishment never seems to quite fit the crime.

At its core, a hangover is most often caused by dehydration, so it can be a good idea to drink as much water as you can before, during, and after that big party where drinks are being served. However, the type of alcohol you choose to drink can also play a role in how hungover you are the next day.

A Dutch study discovered that darker alcohol tended to make college students more hungover the next day than lighter alcohol. The for that is reason is when the alcohol is fermented it creates chemicals called congeners (and alcohol). The congeners help make for some of the interesting flavours you find in darker booze like red wine and whiskey, but they’re also responsible for rougher hangovers.

When something is filtered a lot, some of those congeners get removed as well. So, something like Smirnoff, which is distilled 10 times might leave you better off than another vodka that was only distilled four times. There’s also an argument out there for avoiding super sugary or bubbly mixers, which have both been proven to make that hangover arrive a bit faster as well.

In truth, the only way to truly avoid a hangover is to just not drink. However, when you’re given the choice between whiskey shots or vodka shots, there’s a decent argument behind opting for the lighter-coloured booze.

It’s also worth noting that the same study discovered that liquor, in general, is more likely to cause a hangover than a glass of wine or beer – in part due to their higher alcohol concentrations. I could have told you that from my own personal “research,” but it’s still good to know that science backs me up.

This article has been updated since its original publish date. 


  • While I regularly hear the “liquor is more likely to give you a hangover than beer” theory personally I’m the complete opposite. Any more than 2 beers in an evening is likely to give me a headache and I feel lousy the next day. On the other hand half a dozen rum and cokes (a dark spirit with all the evil congeners, higher alcohol content and sugar) is fine. I also feel buzzed or tipsy faster with beer than spirits.

    No idea why, because I drink non-alcoholic drinks as well in either situation. Maybe there are allergies or sensitivities that different people have to something in the drinks? Or maybe because beer is lower alcohol I tend to drink them faster, whereas I nurse a spirit?

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!