#TippleTalk – Potency of Our Potions

If I had a penny for every time people have involuntarily shared with me how they get more drunk on tequila than say a single malt, then all the mints in the U.S. of A wouldn’t be able to cut pennies quick enough to keep me compensated.
Here are some facts about alcohol and potency:

Alcohol by volume

Spirits can go up to 90% alcohol by volume!

No matter how much I argue from a scientific (read: logical) viewpoint, people just don’t seem to get it. Alcohol percentage in a shot of whisky is pretty much the same as most tequila; so unless one is drinking more of one versus the other, there is no reason to feel the effects of one faster than another.

Personal preference

Just because you drink vodka doesn’t mean you have developed immunity to it, and this immunity won’t be of much help when you’re sipping on Cognac. If you build up a resistance to alcohol, it’s the same across spirits.

Beer is mild

A pint of beer has about the same amount of pure alcohol as a small pour of whisky? No, wait; it has almost 30 per cent more alcohol. A glass of wine is significantly more potent than a double shot of any spirit. So don’t buy the into the ‘drink beer stay sober’ theory.


When you drink absinthe, you dilute it more than the average spirit; hence, the final concentration of alcohol is usually around the same. So, no, absinthe won’t get you higher if you drink it right. Drunk wrong, you may be tempted to chop off your ear à la Van Gogh. So, what is it that really influences our ride to hangover hell? Read on to know what quickens the onset of a boozy high…


How fast we drink makes a big difference. The more we get drunk, the quicker we drink. This also explains why tequila seems to get us high quicker than whisky, because most of us are shooting it rather than sipping it, which is how it really should be consumed.


Carbonated drinks get absorbed into the blood stream faster and this might lead to a shorter gap between the first sip and the first slur. This explains why some people feel they get more high with champagne. Well, they’d have the same result with Prosecco, Cava, or any other sparkling wine or even a soda-topped cocktail. It’s all about the fizz.


Yes, size matters. A person with a waif frame will feel the effects of alcohol a lot quicker than a man thrice his size. This isn’t about machismo; it’s about the amount of blood flowing in your body – the lesser the volume, the quicker one feels the alcohol mix.

General health

Physical fatigue contributes to a quicker path to headiness.

A tired body and a stressed or disturbed mind cannot hold up well against alcohol. Jet lag, personal trauma and physical fatigue will all contribute to a quicker path to headiness.

Please do not consider this homework of any sorts. The idea was to quell some standard party myths that I get every Saturday. As long as one enjoys responsibly, it’s always a good high.

This article was first published in The Hindu.

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