MWB's answer addressed the first question, indicating that alcohol calories behave similar to fat.
Regarding your second question comparing moderate daily intake to binge drinking, the answer seems to be complex. This study indicates correlation, but not causation:
In general, recent prospective studies show that light-to-moderate alcohol intake is not associated with adiposity gain while heavy drinking is more consistently related to weight gain.
However, many factors can explain the conflicting findings and a better characterization of individuals more likely to gain weight as a result of alcohol consumption is needed. In particular, individuals who frequently drink moderate amounts of alcohol may enjoy a healthier lifestyle in general that may protect them from weight gain.
Another study referenced by the one quoted above gives a bit more insight, noting that while the calories may be the same, the interaction with and/or separation from food may be an important factor, but is still secondary to other factors:
Current research clearly shows that energy consumed as alcohol is additive to that from other dietary sources, leading to short-term passive over-consumption of energy when alcohol is consumed. Indeed, alcohol consumed before or with meals tends to increase food intake, probably through enhancing the short-term rewarding effects of food. However, while these data might suggest that alcohol is a risk factor for obesity, epidemiological data suggests that moderate alcohol intake may protect against obesity, particularly in women. In contrast, higher intakes of alcohol in the absence of alcohol dependence may increase the risk of obesity, as may binge-drinking, however these effects may be secondary to personality and habitual beverage preferences.
So in sum... the chemical energy is the same. But timing of the caloric intake does have some relevance and multiple impacts.