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Health & Balance

How to Hold Your Liquor

If you're going to drink, these 5 tips may help you avoid overdoing it.
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2. Hit the Rocks

Giglio has another hangover-fighting strategy: "I order drinks that are on-the-rocks," he explains. "As the ice melts, the drink is diluted and I sip it slowly." Beverages like Manhattans and cosmopolitans are strained, so they stay just as potent as time goes by.          

Taking your time with a drink also pays off. Your body absorbs alcohol quicker than you metabolize it. The faster you drink, the more time the toxins in booze spend in your body affecting your brain and other tissues -- and the more pain you feel in the morning, Brick says.

Metabolism depends on several factors (gender, weight, age, health), but in general, most people can metabolize roughly one drink an hour. So diluting it with ice or water will increase your time between refills and decrease your odds of a hangover.

3. Skip the Bubbles

Researchers at the University of Manchester have found that carbonated mixers increase the rate of alcohol absorption in the blood. The theory is that the gas in the bubbles is what speeds up the process. Instead, mix your liquor with fruit juice or water.  

If you are going to drink something bubbly, alternate between alcohol and nonalcoholic beverages, suggests Kim Beto, a sommelier and vice president of Southern Wine & Spirits in San Francisco.

"Order a drink that looks the same as an alcoholic drink -- ginger ale in a champagne glass or Coke without the rum, for example," Beto says. The reason: You still have a glass in your hand and it feels like you're having a "real" drink, but you're not doing the same harm.

4. Pay Now or Pay Later

The saying "you get what you pay for" is often the case with alcohol. Researchers have found a link between drinking alcoholic beverages and congeners, the chemicals that contribute to the taste, smell, and color of alcohol.

In that study, people drank either bourbon or vodka with the same alcohol content. The next day, both groups reported hangovers, but the bourbon drinkers reported feeling much worse than the vodka group. The researchers attribute the difference to congeners -- bourbon has 37 times as many congeners as vodka.

In general, clear or light liquor contains fewer congeners than darker drinks, but that's not a hard and fast rule. The best rule of thumb, according to Woodford: Drink more expensive brands. The cheaper booze tends to contain higher levels of congeners than pricier versions, he says.

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