Is It True That Beer Before Liquor Will Make You Sicker?

You may have heard this popular saying: "Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you're in the clear."

It's a well-known phrase in drinking culture, especially in groups where drinking is encouraged, such as colleges. The phrase implies that if you drink your alcohol in a specific order, you will be more or less likely to become sick and have a severe hangover the next day. In this case, the caution is to drink your vodka, whiskey, or liquor of choice before any beer.

The phrase has unknown origins, but many people swear by it. These subjective experiences have popularized the saying, making it seem like scientific fact rather than hearsay, according to Healthline. But does the expression have support from research? Science says sort of, but not really.

The real reason your hangover might be worse

It turns out, the order in which you drink your beer and liquor only matters psychologically. Judgment and decision-making become impaired when you consume alcohol, according to American Addiction Centers. As you get more intoxicated, you're less able to make sound decisions, and you want to keep drinking. If you save the beer for last, it's harder to continue fast-paced drinking, because beer makes you feel so full (per Thrillist).

Other than that, there's little evidence for drinking order making a difference in how you feel the next day. Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream the moment it enters your stomach, so what really matters is the amount of alcohol you drink overall that determines hangover severity, according to Healthline. A 2019 study came to a similar conclusion, but this study looked at the order of drinking beer and wine rather than beer and liquor.

There are better ways of ensuring you won't wake up with a hangover, including avoiding dark liquor, consuming small quantities, eating a meal beforehand, and not smoking (via Healthline).