Photo: House of Sims, Flickr
Legends, tall tales, good stories, myths...whatever you call them, the drinking world is full of them. Here are a few favorites to debunk:
MYTH: Beer before liquor, never been sicker -- liquor before beer, you're in the clear.
TRUTH: This is a cute jingle, but not reality. The percentage of alcohol in your blood (known as your blood alcohol content or BAC) is what determines how drunk you are. It doesn't matter what type of alcohol you chose to consume, alcohol is alcohol. More than your body can process can make you sick no matter what the order. A 12-ounce beer equals a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.
MYTH: Dark beers are stronger in alcohol.
TRUTH: The color of beer has nothing to do with its alcohol content. People often mistake a beer like Guinness Irish stout for a "strong" beer when it actually has an alcohol volume of 4.2%, less than Budweiser's 5%. Many Belgian beers with a light color have alcohol content of 8% or more.
MYTH: Sticking the handle of a spoon into a bottle of sparkling wine prevents the escape of carbonation.
TRUTH: Sparkling wine will keep darn well for a day or two under refrigeration even when left uncapped. The bubbles in sparkling wine are carbon dioxide, a gas that's both inert and heavy. After you pop that cork, the CO2 forms a layer on top of the wine that holds oxidation at bay and also helps to keep the remaining carbonation in liquid form. This layer holds even better when the wine is kept at a good chill.
MYTH: If you shake gin in a drink like a martini, you "bruise" it.
TRUTH: Hearing big ice cubes in a metal shaker sure sounds like that gin is taking a beating, right? Shaking a drink can end up diluting it a bit faster, so perhaps this is what some folks mean by bruising. You also create tiny shards of ice when you shake a drink -- I prefer my martinis stirred to avoid those shards. However, many gin cocktails are delicious when shaken.
MYTH: Mixing watermelon and alcohol will cause death. (Yes, there are people who believe this.)
TRUTH: There's no lethal chemical reaction with watermelon and alcohol. In fact, mixing watermelon with some types of alcohol results in summertime bliss.