People forget that mixology isn't just a fancy word; it's also a bit of a science. In addition to what alcohols mix with other ingredients -- both alcoholic and non-alcoholic -- proper alcohol mixing rules also include healthy drinking habits, social responsibilities and simple ideas for creative cocktail concoction. Knowing and implementing the proper ways to mix alcohol can help your nights out be more festive and your morning afters be less brutal.
Old Wives' Tales
One of the most repeated phrases relating to alcohol mixing and consumption is "liquor before beer, everything's clear; beer before liquor, never been sicker." However, many scientists, including a spokesperson from the Addiction Science Research and Education Center at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy, have refuted that claim. The real culprit in heavy intoxication is not the order that drinks are consumed, but the actual amount ingested. Other common unfounded myths include the idea that combining liquor with energy drinks increases intoxication, or that drinking coffee after alcohol consumption sobers you up faster. Both myths are incorrect because neither energy drinks nor coffee have any effect on the level of actual intoxication.
The sugar in your mixer plays a role in how your body reacts to it. Drinking cocktails with fewer calories will help with unwanted weight gain, and cutting down on sugar in cocktails can help reduce the severity of hangovers. Sugar, though, may be a healthier mixer than ones with artificial sweeteners -- NPR reports that studies at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and Northern Kentucky University have found that diet sodas may lead to quicker states of intoxication than sodas with sugar, since sugar actually slows alcohol absorption.
Behind the Bar
The rules of mixing alcohol do not only apply to the drinkers; the mixers have rules to follow as well. Restaurant and bars in different states have different rules that servers have to follow -- these rules fall under the dram shop liability laws. In layman's terms, a dram shop is a place where alcoholic beverages are sold. Most states hold servers responsible for over-serving or serving intoxicated patrons, and all states prohibit serving a minor alcohol. Some states also enforce social host liability laws in which party throwers in noncommercial settings are responsible for the partygoers -- these laws protect both adults and minors.
While the most important rule of thumb is to follow your palate, a few guidelines can help you make the most out of your mixing. One of the most important, and obvious, rules is to follow the recipe. Cocktail recipes not only give the right ingredients and the proportions for uniform preparation, they also list the order in which the ingredients need to be added and the correct technique, such as shaking or stirring, for the drink. If you are creating your own cocktail, follow a few a simple rules for drinks big and small: mix two parts liquor, one part sweet ingredient like juice or simple syrup and one part sour ingredient like lemon or lime juice.