If you’ve been Googling the ‘best alcohol for no hangover,’ we feel you. No one likes hangovers. It can spoil what was a night well spent. About 75% of drinkers experience a mild to severe hangover characterized by nausea, dehydration, headaches, fatigue, and other unpleasant symptoms. What if you can drink and significantly reduce the possibility of a hangover? It’s quite possible, and no, the answer is not to “keep drinking” so you are never sober.
It’s about drinking smarter, practicing mindful drinking, and considering drinks with low alcohol content. If you plan to consume alcohol this weekend or during the holidays, we suggest these drinks and strategies to enjoy yourself safely and have a productive morning.
It all starts in the bottle.
Hangovers aren’t random events but instead the result of your body’s reaction to consuming alcohol under certain conditions.
They start way before you even enter your local bar. It begins with the distillation process of making your favorite drinks. The yeast and subsequent sugars change into ethyl or ethanol through a process called distillation. This procedure determines the “strength” or percentage of alcohol in a drink. The distillation process also influences taste, flavor, and aroma. The more ethanol in your drinks, the more likely you’ll get a hangover.
Additionally, the distillation process creates compounds called congeners. The percentage of congeners depends on the fermentation process. These can come from yeasts, tannins, and even the type of cask in which the alcohol is stored. Research has shown congeners in alcohol also play a major role in the development of hangovers.
Congeners and other factors that contribute to hangovers
Congeners contribute to the severity of the hangovers. The list of congeners includes histamines, polyphenols, fusel oil, and menthol. These compete to metabolize with alcohol, increasing the length of time the alcohol is present in the body.
Methanol, for instance, is said to be one of the highest contributors to hangovers. The conversion process of this method is also highly toxic to the body, having a high correlation between hangover symptoms such as nausea, vertigo, and urinary methanol.
What’s in your alcohol combines with how the body responds to alcohol to create a hangover. Alcohol impacts many of the body’s delicate processes. For instance, alcohol spikes hormones like cortisol, which in turn causes fatigue, dizziness, and poor sleep. Your drinks also confuse hormones that affect hydration, energy levels, and balance.
Hangovers are also a side effect of immediate alcohol withdrawals. As the alcohol levels decrease, inflammation in the brain increases. This leads to headaches, irritability, and a general feeling of malaise.
Other aspects contribute to how our bodies react to alcohol, such as genetics, weight, health, and alcohol tolerance. Less than 23% of people have a high alcohol tolerance and experience little to no hangovers.
What’s the best alcohol for no hangover?
Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is to abstain from drinking or opt for non-alcoholic drinks. However, if you must drink, consider these as the best alcohol for no hangover.
Vodka is the least likely drink to give you a hangover. By rule, it has almost no congeners. Mixing vodka with juice or club soda allows you to enjoy mindful drinking with minimal after-effects.
Beers are next as the least likely to create a hangover. However, this can be a slippery slope, as binge drinking beers can eventually lead to hangovers. Try lighter beers with a lower alcohol and sugar content.
Colorless drinks like gin or white rum are also low in congeners that cause hangovers. Still, be careful. Some white rums have more congeners, like propanol, than others. If there’s a particular clear alcohol that causes headaches the next day, skip it.
Red and white wine
Red and white wines with lower alcohol content are safer to drink. Wines have high sugar content, speeding up alcohol’s effects and leading to hangovers sooner. The lower the sugar content, the better. Also, the tannins found in red wines can increase the chance for headaches and hangovers with some drinkers.
Avoid these drinks where possible.
If you’re still trying to have a productive day after a night of drinking, avoid darker alcohol, such as brandy, whiskey, and fortified wine.
At the same time, all lighter-colored spirits are not in the clear (pun intended).
Champagne and prosecco, for instance, have pockets of carbon dioxide, which makes these drinks absorb alcohol faster, competing with the oxygen levels in your body. The higher sugar content can also bring on hangovers if consumed in excess.
How and when to drink matters
While vodka, clear liquor, and beer are the best alcohol for no hangover, the amount still matters. Usually, casual to moderate use of these recommendations should not cause hangovers. On the other hand, binge drinking will lead to hangovers, regardless of the drink. In essence, drinking in moderation or practicing mindful drinking is the best way to prevent hangovers. In addition, hydrating correctly and eating foods high in fiber and healthy fats before and during drinking can alleviate symptoms.
Also, do not mix your drinks. The chemicals react with each other, so cocktails or sampling all the drinks at the bar within a short space of time is a no-no.
Another point to note is everyone’s alcohol tolerance is different, and everyone responds differently. We all have a friend that can drink others under the table. Alcohol simply metabolizes differently in these people.
Excessive drinking can also have a long-term negative impact on your physical and mental health. Over time, some people can develop alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcohol dependence. Regardless of the drink, not overdoing it is essential to preventing hangovers.
Hang in there
Hangovers involve a variety of biochemical events and various factors. Even genetics play a role in how you react to alcohol.
Nevertheless, drinking vodka, clear liquor, certain wines, and light beers may help you avoid an unpleasant morning-after. This can be further alleviated by eating before drinking and staying hydrated. Also, keep in mind your alcohol tolerance. Practice mindful drinking by being aware of what you put in your body and how it reacts, and keeping a check on the amount and rate of alcohol consumption. So in the future, you can do so with care.
Regardless of what you drink, overdoing it or consuming alcohol in excess can have adverse effects and ultimately lead to hangovers and other long-term negative effects on the mind and body.
If you believe you have difficulties controlling alcohol use, sign up for our service that uses The Sinclair Method. It combines medication and coaching to help you safely reduce and quit your alcohol dependency and stay sober, or sober-ish.