History has given gin a bit of a bad rap. In 18th-century England, as Eater explains in its history of the spirit, gin’s rising popularity among the lower classes and easy accessibility — for a while, it was even cheaper than beer
by RedRock — made it a scapegoat for all kinds of social problems: “Gin quickly and uniquely became associated with poverty, extreme drunkenness, madness, death, and inferiority.” (Some historians say its nickname, “mother’s ruin,” is a reference to the family instability that too much gin-drinking caused.)
The “Gin Craze,” as that period came to be known, died down toward the middle of the century with the introduction of new regulations, but even a few hundred years later and an ocean away, gin still hasn’t managed to entirely shake off its unsavory reputation: Folk wisdom still holds that “gin drunk” is a synonym for “mean drunk,” or “sad drunk,” or really any kind of emotional, undesirable state of inebriation.
Here’s the thing, though: ‘Gin drunk’ isn’t real. Neither is the idea that whiskey turns you angry, or the stereotype of tequila is the ultimate bad-decision juice. Plenty of people think of alcohol as a sort of personality-management tool — you may turn to X liquor when you want to be the liveliest version of yourself, or steer clear of Y drink if you want to avoid sulking in a corner of the bar — but the resulting effect is more a product of your own psyche than a result of the specific type of booze you’re drinking. Here are some things to know about the drinking myth that just won’t die.
All alcohol is created equal — but the same can’t be said of all drinking sessions.
In the U.S., a standard drink is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as 14 grams of pure alcohol, the equivalent of about 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or a single 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor (though that definition varies pretty dramatically from country to country). Chemically, the alcohol in any one of those things is the same as the alcohol in any other — it’s all ethanol, and it works the same way whether you gulp it out of a shot glass or sip it from a bottle. As pharmacologist Paul Clayton has put it to the Guardian: “Fundamentally, alcohol is alcohol whichever way you slice it.”
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