I don’t know if there is any scientific validity to the idea of different types of booze causing you to have different types of inebriations. Honestly, I don’t care. Even if it’s a placebo effect, I know my body takes me down different paths depending on what I consume. The interesting thing is that I’ve shifted two things since I was in college: the way I consume alcohol, and the way I handle my hooch.
College: I drank more whiskey and Cokes than any person should in his or her lifetime. By my senior year, I decided I was too sophisticated for that sort of thing so I only drank good bourbon, straight. I was a fancy pants. Whiskey always made me a gregarious guy without getting me into rage mode too quickly.
Now: I’m too poor for Woodford Reserve. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. But I’ve learned that there’s no shame in drinking Jim Beam on a regular basis. Hell, for the price, it’s a damn fine bourbon. There are also so many more ways to drink whiskey than just by itself. I’m going to have whiskey every single way I can until I die. It also still makes me gregarious, although my blurriness the next morning has significantly increased.
College: Beer was like water, and not in the “European making fun of American beer” sense. What I mean is if I was hitting the heavy stuff a little too hard, I’d use beer like a parking brake to slow down through a curve. Running the beer pong table was actually the worst thing I could do for my buzz, because drinking beer nonstop slowed me down.
Now: Now I just get full. I can probably place some of the blame on upgrading to better beer, but even when I have a few Coors Lights at a party, I still just get waterlogged and stop enjoying myself. I’m pretty much a liquor only guy, unless I need something to sip on for a while. So, I guess beer is still technically my drunk buffer.
College: Gin was the liquor of last resort. I didn’t realize how good gin could be because every time I had it, it was bottom shelf. Gin is, hands down, the worst liquor to drink bottom shelf. I drank it because some dumb girl bought it and I was too lazy to go buy something myself. I’d toss it in a citrus soda and try not to die.
Now: Guess what? Gin is actually a pretty good liquor if you use it in the right drink. Getting a Tom Collins or a Southside is always a good way to augment your typical night menu. And the great thing is that since it’s a lighter liquor, the hangover isn’t quite as bad. I’m pretty sure that last thing was just pseudoscience bullshit, but let’s just go with it.
College: My first two years were a blur of plastic bottles of Potter’s or Aristocrat. Then I decided to class it up a bit, but this was in a time where my hangovers were light headaches I could knock out with an hour of basketball or a couple of morning beers. But now…
Now: Fuck no, never. I can handle the occasional Goose drink, but even the next day it feels like my stomach is full of Ukrainian dissidents, preparing to storm my brain castle and depose me. I think the copious amounts of what was effectively bathtub vodka during those years in college launched my brain into a protective mode that basically turns on every feel-bad receptor in my body once vodka enters it so that I don’t put it through the trauma I once did.
College: You probably ended your night dancing on the bar and trying to take your hot professor home with you.
Now: You’re probably gonna end your night dancing on the bar and trying to take your hot boss home with you.
In reality, the biggest change is the one that all of your older friends warned you about. You hit a turning point midway or late in college where your hangovers start getting bad, and it only gets worse from there. I don’t black out like the old days, but even on nights where I ended up just fun drunk, I’m hungover for the entire damn day afterward. And you can try all the tricks you want (and I have several) but at this age and after, it’s more like putting sandbags around your house in a hurricane. Your house might not get swept away, but you’re still gonna have to throw away your old carpet and buy all new windows.