Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. How quickly it absorbs depends on a number of factors such as gender, age, weight and the amount of food you have in your stomach. One of the more overlooked aspects of alcohol absorption has to do with the type of beverage. Certain alcoholic beverages will be absorbed quicker than others based on their composition and a few other factors.
How Alcohol Absorption Works
Alcohol absorbs into the body differently than food. While food may stay in your stomach and is slowly absorbed, up to 20 percent of alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream as soon as the drink is swallowed. That is why a slight feeling of euphoria or a buzz can be achieved quickly. The remaining 80 percent is absorbed by the small intestine, where it then enters the bloodstream.
Carbonation in anything you drink allows it to enter the bloodstream faster. There is no difference with an alcoholic beverage. If you drink alcohol that is either carbonated or mixed with a carbonated beverage, then it will absorb into the bloodstream faster than drinks that are not carbonated. Examples are cocktails such as Jack and Coke, which is whiskey mixed with Coca-Cola. Champagne is carbonated, as is beer. All of these drinks will absorb into your bloodstream faster than others.
The vast majority of alcoholic beverages are served cold or even frozen, but there are a select few drinks that may be served warm. A good example of this is sake, a Japanese rice wine that is traditionally served heated. Warm alcoholic beverages such as this are absorbed faster into the bloodstream than cold alcoholic beverages. An Irish coffee, which is coffee served with whiskey in it, is another popular alcoholic drink that is served warm.
The greater the concentration of alcohol a beverage has, the faster it absorbs into your system. Distilled liquors are much higher in alcohol than beer or wine. For example, the average beer is 4.5 percent alcohol, though some specialty beers may be higher. Compare that to an average of 12.5 percent for table wine and 40 to 50 percent for distilled liquor. The concentration of alcohol in the distilled liquor is many times greater, leading to faster absorption than most other alcoholic beverages.
References and ResourcesKnow Your Limits: How Alcohol Works
Chaves DWI Program: Blood Alcohol Concentration