How Different Alcoholic Beverages Will Impact Your Mood This Thanksgiving

This holiday, pick your poison like a scientist.

When your personality just isn’t enough, there’s always alcohol. For those who sip in moderation, a shot of vodka or a sip of red wine can be the difference between an enjoyable Thanksgiving and, well, you know what happens when you’re with your family during the holidays, dry. But which adult beverage to choose? Believe it or not, this age-old question is the subject of a new study in BMJ, involving 30,000 social drinkers who reported how various beverages make them feel.

The results suggest that hard liquor may have its downsides at the dinner table (aggression and sickness) but so does wine (exhaustion and sadness). As for the advantages, red wine predictably induces relaxation but, if you want to feel confident, white wine seems to be the way to go. And beer might give you a much-needed energy boost this Thanksgiving — but liquor is still quicker. For your viewing pleasure, here’s our data visualization of the full results of the study:

For the study, researchers examined responses to an enormous survey of drug and alcohol use from 21 countries. It is important to note that, due to the observational nature of this study, none of the data prove causation. The results should be taken with a grain of salt until replicated in a prospective study.

Their analysis suggests that people are most likely to associate red wine and beer with relaxation, while hard liquor is most associated with aggression.

“For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence,” said co-author on the study Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, in a statement. “This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks.” But liquor isn’t all bad. The results suggest that spirits are also strongly associated with energy, confidence, and sexiness.

Interestingly, respondents who reported that they were heavy drinkers were more likely across the board to associate their drinks of choice with energy, aggression, and sadness. Bellis and colleagues suspect this emotional confusion reflects a familiar phenomenon. Alcoholics drink because they feel they need it, but ultimately regret the pain it causes themselves and others. “Understanding emotions associated with alcohol consumption is imperative to addressing alcohol misuse, providing insight into what emotions influence drink choice between different groups in the population,” the authors write in the study.

On a lighter note, the study can serve as your pocket guide to selecting the right beverage for any holiday party. Feeling low on confidence? You’re going to want liquor or beer. Wiped out from a hard week? Perhaps avoid the soporific red. Hoping to feel sexy? Whiskey or vodka is your best bet (hold the beer, boys). Regardless of your choice, we at Fatherly hope that — if you choose to imbibe — you do so safely and responsibly this holiday season. Remember that a good dad is a sober dad (most of the time, anyway). But a good dad is also a savvy dad. And this year, you can finally pick your poison like a scientist.