Growing up in Europe we had a saying that said:

"Bier auf Wein, das laß sein - Wein auf Bier, das rat' ich dir"

Translation: Beer after wine, leave it be - wine after beer, that I recommend.

In the US, a similar saying goes like this:

"Beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you’re in the clear."

Those two sayings have always perplexed me, as they seem to be contradictory. Visualizing the order of drinks it would look something like this:

enter image description here

As is apparent, one recommends to drink by increasing alcohol content, the other recommends against it. Intuitively I assume that these sayings recommend best practices to prevent becoming sick (Reality Check: I understand the order of drinks is mostly irrelevant - it's the total amount of alcohol and the speed of consumption that drives whether someone gets sick.)

So my question: Are there any other reasons for why one would recommend consuming alcoholic drinks in a certain order?

  • 1
    As far as I understand and have experienced the American version, it basically amounts to a meaningless meme and joke. The reason could be as simple as liquor rhyming with sicker.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 21:16
  • I think it's all old wifes tales... but I always got told to just go lighter in colour. (I.e. red wine/porters first and clear spirits last) from experience, however, just don't mix!
    – Gamora
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 15:45
  • Also to add to that, I (UK) was always told: Beer then wine, you'll feel fine, wine then beer, you'll feel queer.
    – Gamora
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 15:47
  • My Aunt Cass used to say, "Never mix, never worry."
    – Richard
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 21:35

3 Answers 3


According to this link, different types of alcohol have differing amounts and different types of congeners (which are one of the primary toxins contributing to a hangover) in them, leading to varying degrees of hangovers. Combining these varying toxins in different ways can lead to different results. Red wine apparently has the highest amount of congeners in it, while clearer liquids tend to have have fewer.

Another thing noted by this article is that carbonated alcoholic beverages (e.g., beer) cause the body to absorb alcohol more quickly; therefore, if you were to consume beer before liquor, your body would have even less time to deal with the alcohol absorption than the other way around.

Other than your reasoning as to the amount of alcohol content drinks contain, this is the only thing I can think of!


It's all nonsense. You get hangovers when you "mix" because if you're "mixing" you are probably drinking more than you realize. To wit, if you have a beer and then a single shot of liquor, most adults are fine - and there will be no difference if you reverse that.

The rules came from people who would have 4 beers, then switch to whiskey, then tequila and wake up with a hangover and decide it was the switching that did it when what really happened was that they had 6-8 drinks.


There was a news item about this on the BBC website which contradicts this piece of verse:


So it seems to be nonsense. Too bad.

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