Thursday, February 14, 2013

Coffee & Alcohol -- 183 lbs (-46) [4X]

I didn't start drinking coffee until I started drinking alcohol--both at the same drama club party in my junior year of high school, and both tasted horrible that night/next morning. I quickly developed a taste for them, though, and was happily drinking pretty much everything in anything a year later. I also latched on to the idea that a successful evening was a balance of alcohol, caffeine, and water, and thus experimented with adding sweet liqueurs such as brandy, Amaretto, Bailey's, and Kahlua to my coffee (nothing beat a piping hot Amaretto coffee on a deeply cold winter night), as well as harder alcohols to caffeinated soft drinks. Here are some proud clips of me under the influence of rum and coke in 1981 (others have been removed to protect the guilty):

It wasn't until I started flying between Seattle and San Jose some 25 years later that I cut out the sweet stuff and started putting straight whisky in coffee. As a frequent flyer, I was often upgraded to first class, which essentially amounted to a comfy seat and complimentary alcohol. Even if I hadn't started the work day, there was no way I was going to pass up free booze, so I settled on putting the 50 ml bottles of Crown Royale in coffee as some sort of twisted ethical compromise. Shortly after this, I discovered Evan Williams as a great-tasting value whiskey for the home, and that it also went well in coffee*, so Irish whiskey (with American bourbon) for breakfast became a semi-regular thing.

Caffeine and alcohol have probably always been consumed in close proximity of each other, but I haven't found as much research on the interplay of caffeine and alcohol as I'd expect. What there is seems to be mostly focused on observational performance, rather than the actual physiological mechanisms, and the observational studies I've skimmed claim that caffeine and alcohol is no better than placebo and alcohol. But if rising BAC acts as stimulant, and falling BAC acts as a depressant, I find it hard to believe that caffeine will not have any effect on that pattern. Plus, I have over 30 years of experience that says otherwise, and I doubt I imagined it.

*I don't like just anything in coffee, mind you. I've experimented with many hard and soft liquors, and I can adamantly proclaim that I don't like scotch in coffee. It somehow manages to ruin both the scotch and the coffee.

[+] What I Consumed Since Last Post ...

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