Do Diet Cocktails Get You Drunk Faster?

If your cocktail of choice includes diet soda or artificial sweeteners, you might be setting yourself for a quicker buzz than you expected.


different colored drinks in wineglasses

Photo by: Pumba1


Are you a rum and diet Coke drinker or do you prefer a calorie-free cocktail blend made with artificial sweeteners? Whichever is your poison, recent studies have found that consuming artificial sweeteners with your booze can make you tipsy faster.

The Research

A 2006 study found that mixing vodka with a diet beverage containing artificial sweetener verses a sugar-sweetened beverage got folks drunk 15 minutes faster. Those downing the cocktail with artificial sweeteners also had a higher blood alcohol concentration by 0.02.

Although the recent study conducted by Northern Kentucky University had a pretty small sample size (about 16 subjects), the results pointed to the same conclusion. Researchers determined that sugar-sweetened alcohol is absorbed slower into the blood while the artificial stuff doesn’t hinder alcohol absorption.

While you may think that sticking to calorie free mix-ins like seltzer may be a better option, a 2007 study found that carbonated drinks cause alcohol to be absorbed quicker compared with flat mixers like orange and cranberry juice.

Better Options for Booze

Drinking artificially sweetened cocktails will not only get you drunk faster, but they’ve also been associated with upset stomach, blood sugar control issues and an increased risk for certain types of cancer. Even if the calorie-free sugar is labeled as "natural," most have undergone some chemical manipulation before being bottled.

If you're looking for healthier options, mixers like 100% fruit juice -- pineapple, orange and cranberry -- may be your best choice, plus you can get a nice dose of vitamin C. Artisan cocktail bars are also popping up and making drinks with fresh herbs or infusing vodka or rum with wonderful flavors making them more natural, flavorful options.

No matter which mixer you choose sticking to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines of 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men is important in order to control calories and keep the negative impact on health at bay.

Bottom Line: Choosing alcohol made with or mixed with artificial sweeteners isn’t the healthiest choice and can make your drunk faster. Choose cocktails made with wholesome ingredients or use 100% juice as your mixer.

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