Whether you're alone or together with family for the holidays, it's a great time to drink. Let's be honest, though: any
time is a great time to drink.
So, given that we've had a few threads asking questions about alcohol in general, that there's a forumer who recently turned 21 who keeps tapping me for my extensive knowledge in the area of imbibing, and that the old alcohol thread got pushed off the board instead of going into the archive (probably pheezer's doing, but possibly bone daddy's; it's been awhile), I figure it's time for another one. So, without further ado, the alcohol thread (let's try to avoid beer, since that would pretty much be a thread on its own):
Types of alcohol: general categories include wines, beers, alco-pops, hard liquor, cocktails, and liqueur.
Beer is a drink made with hops, barley, and usually wheat. It's high in carbohydrates, and generally ranges anywhere from 8 to 30 proof (2 proof is one percent alcohol, so something that's 15 proof is 7.5% alcohol). 12 ounces of beer is generally considered "one drink.*" This is the one we won't be talking about.
Wine is a drink made by fermenting grapes, occasionally mixed with other fruits, but not usually. Wine grapes are generally small and bitter, not like the kind of grapes you get at a grocery store. Regions which are known for producing good wine include California, France, Australia, and Chile. Wines generally range from 12 to 30 proof, most hovering around 18 or so. Wine is to be drunk out of wine glasses (the wider, shorter red wine glasses for red wine, and the narrower taller white wine glasses for white wine). Ten ounces of wine is considered "one drink." Champagne is a sub-category of white whine, that is carbonated. Champagne not made in Champagne, France, or a small vineyard in California owned by a group of French growers from Champagne, is known as "sparkling wine." Chemically, there's no significant difference between champagne and sparkling wine.
Alco-pops are increasingly popular amongst younger drinkers (especially underage drinkers), and generally more popular amongst females than males. They tend not to taste very alcoholic, because they usually aren't
very alcoholic, tending to be from 5 to 20 proof (yes, I've seen 5 proof alco-pops). This category includes things like "Smirnoff Twists," "Mike's Hard Lemonade," wine coolers, and most fruity, fizzy alcoholic drinks. A single bottle or can (usually 12 oz.) of alco-pop is generally considered "one drink."
Hard liquor are drinks which are usually distilled (made via evaporation, post-fermentation), and include things like vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. They are generally classified by a rough, clearly alcoholic taste, and usually drank in shot glasses. Hard liquor mostly tends to be around 80 proof, but with some of the grain alcohols can get as high as 190 proof (everclear). Of course, Bacardi 151 is 151 proof. 1.5 oz of hard liquor is usually considered "one drink," but if it's something like 151 or Everclear, 1.5 oz should be considered two drinks.
Cocktails are drinks made by mixing alcoholic drinks with other things. The alcohol content varies wildly, even amongst the same type of cocktail, depending on how strongly the drink is made.
Liqueurs are similar to hard liquor, in that they have a high alcohol content, but instead of the rough alcohol flavor, generally have a much sweeter, fruitier flavor. What determines "one drink" varies depending on what the alcohol content of the particular liqueur is.
This'll be my general "intro to alcohol" post. I'll get into specific alcohols in the next post.
*For those of you wondering where I'm getting my numbers for what is considered "one drink," it's what I remember from my freshman health orientation presentation, and/or my driver's ed class in high school. In most states, for most people, two drinks is enough to make you legally drunk for purposes of driving. Generally, your body burns off one drink worth of drunkenness per hour. And a quick, helpful FYI for those of you who like to drink at parties: those red plastic Solo cups? Around 20 ounces, or a little more than one and a half drinks (assuming you're drinking beer). Something good to keep in mind.