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In the mix

Apparently, we get inebriated faster on alcohol with a mixer, than on alcohol alone. So no need for shots on a night out! But can this really be true?

Mary Lewis Lewis Moberly

According to the National Institute of Health site Medline Plus: “A carbonated alcoholic drink, will be absorbed faster than a non-carbonated drink.”

Okay, but how?

Now here’s the science…..In a  2007 article in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Lancashire found the gas from a carbonated mixer caused bloating in the stomach, which increased what the study called ‘gastric emptying’, an effect that accelerates alcohol's passage from the stomach into the small intestine, where alcohol is absorbed more rapidly. So, the alcohol enters the blood stream more quickly.

The study found that people drinking vodka with fizzy water (the red line C), had a rapid, sharp spike in blood-alcohol content. Drinkers of vodka and still water (the blue line B) show a less dramatic spike. The people with a shot of straight vodka (black line A) had the least dramatic effect and took longest to get alcohol into the blood stream. Because the results covered some wide discrepancies, the researchers were not willing to make definitive conclusions but, it does look like they may be on to something.

What does this mean for the drinks industry?

It increases the importance of the humble mixer. Long overlooked, it seems that now it is taking centre stage.  Why be just a connoisseur of gin when you can also be a tonic pro?

The leader in the race is Fever-Tree. Gone are the days when Schweppes was perfectly adequate. Any posh G&T drinker now demands a Fever-Tree as standard.  They have gone from 0 - 60 million bottles since 2005 and are now in 50 markets.  And they show no sign of slowing. Sales are up 60% on the previous year (2013-2014). As a brand they dominate. It is the top selling tonic (37% share in bars) and more dominant than Tanqueray, Havana Club, Johnnie Walker or Hennessy in their respective categories. Fentimans, the UK competitor, is not far behind with huge growth potential.

But these premium tonics cannot sit on their laurels. Like all areas of the bar we are seeing a rise in small artisanal brands. Some are going back to the origin of tonic, a concentrated syrup that you mix with carbonated water to taste like Tomr’s Tonic, who claim life is too short to drink bad tonic, or Bermondsey Tonic Water.

Then there are small local brands like Walter Gregor from Scotland, with real quinine (makes you question what we have been drinking in Schweppes all these years…) and infused with botanicals.

Just like the gin category the gloves are off between the big boys, and the underdogs…..  Let battle commence.

But remember, next time you wake up in the morning, and you blame that extra drink for your fuzzy head, maybe give the G a break and blame the T... 

27 July 2015