Humans have been consuming alcoholic beverages for thousands of years. Alcohol is both a chemical and a psychoactive drug. When a person drinks alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and affects the central nervous system. Alcohol can have both positive and negative effects on a person’s health.
The main active ingredient in alcoholic beverages is ethanol. Ethanol is a type of alcohol that is produced by fermentation, which is the process of breaking down sugars into alcohol.
When a hydroxyl group, a pair of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, replaces the hydrogen atom in a hydrocarbon, alcohol is created. Alcohols combine with other atoms to form secondary alcohols. Methanol, isoprophyl alcohol, and ethanol are the three forms of alcoholic beverages that humans consume on a daily basis.
Let’s get to know more about alcohol, its main types of alcoholic drinks, and their alcohol content.
What is Alcohol?
Let’s take a step back and look at what alcohol is before we go through all of the many alcoholic beverages available.
Alcohol is the most ancient and widely used recreational drug on the planet. Although there are several types of alcohol, the kind you will be serving will solely contain ethyl alcohol (ethanol).
Based on Wikipedia, “Alcohol causes euphoria, less anxiety, sociability, sedation, cognitive impairment, memory loss, and motor dysfunction. It also induces a depressed state in the central nervous system’s function.”
Anyone who has ever had a drink knows, and most likely likes, the effects that it has on the human body. However, it’s important to remember that alcohol may be hazardous in certain situations.
Because of the potential harm, alcohol is heavily controlled throughout the world, and it is why as a bartender, it’s critical to be cautious when serving it.
The Three Types Of Alcohol
There are three types of alcohol that people often use. One is safe for drinking with the other two types are used for manufacturing and cleaning. The first type of alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol is the kind of alcohol that is in beer, wine, and liquor. It is also used as fuel for some engines. The second type of alcohol is methanol. Methanol is found in products like paint thinner and windshield washer fluid. It can also be found in some types of alcohol that are not safe for drinking. The third type of alcohol is propanol. Propanol is found in some cleaning products and is also used as a fuel in some engines.
RECOMMENDED: The Main types of liquor
Ethanol, methanol, and isopropyl alcohol all have different properties which make them good for different things. Let us talk about these alcohol types in detail:
Isopropyl alcohol, often known as rubbing alcohol, is most commonly used for sterilization. This kind of alcohol is used to clean and disinfect surfaces, tools, and human skin. This sort of alcohol can be found in many cleaning products and even a little amount may be present in some cosmetics or lotions.
Methyl alcohol, commonly known as wood alcohol, is most often used in the production industry. It can be utilized to produce items like paint remover and antifreeze, as well as a variety of by-products including plastics and explosives. This sort of booze also helps cars and ships run by warming other fuels.
Ethanol is the only one of these alcohols that is safe for human consumption. Ethanol is a good solvent and it has a low freezing point. It is the only drinking alcohol among these three types of alcohol.
Fermentation of various sugars, yeast, and starches generates ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol). This sort of alcohol is well-known for its capacity to alter mood and behavior and has been used as a recreational drug for thousands of years. It is the only kind of liquor that can be metabolized by the human liver (in modest amounts).
Ethanol has harmful effects on the body, with particular emphasis on the throat and organs such as the liver, kidney, and brain. Ethanol compromises coordination and judgment by affecting the central nervous system. Abusing alcohol in any manner, such as binge drinking or heavy drinking, might result in a number of health issues and alcoholism. Individuals who are physically dependent on alcohol may experience alcohol use disorder, and withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it.
Ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world, is a type of alcohol that is consumed by two billion people every day. People have drunk ethanol-based beverages like beer and wine for centuries to alter their moods. Ethanol, on the other hand, has both beneficial and harmful effects on the body. The beneficial effects include reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, while the harmful effects include liver damage and cancer.
Categories of Alcoholic Beverages
The types of alcohol that are safe for drinking are categorized into two major parts – distilled and undistilled drinks. The main difference between the two is that distilled drinks have a higher alcohol content than undistilled drinks.
Fermented alcoholic drinks are another name for undistilled beverages. The conversion of sugar by bacteria or yeast into ethanol is known as fermentation. Wine and beer are both fermented, undistilled alcoholic drinks that have been produced through the process of fermentation. Wineries ferment grapes to make wine, and breweries produce beer by fermenting barley, wheat, and other grains.
The fermentation process of making beer and wine is different from the distillation process of making hard liquor. In the distillation process, the fermented liquid is heated so that it turns into vapor. The vapor is then cooled so that it turns back into a liquid, but with a higher alcohol content than the original fermented liquid.
Distillation is the second stage of fermentation. The method transforms a fermented substance into one with a higher alcohol level. Distillation concentrates alcohol by removing it from the water and other elements in a fermented substance. Distilled beverages is defined as an alcoholic drink that has been through the distillation process.
Alcoholic beverages are usually more concentrated when they have gone through the distillation process. The alcohol content in distilled drinks is usually between 35% to 50%. In contrast, beer and wine only have an alcohol content of around 12%.
The concentration of alcohol in a drink, also known as ethanol content, is measured by two different measures: alcohol by volume (ABV) and alcohol proof. The proportion of alcohol in a solution is expressed as a percentage and is referred to as alcohol by volume. A cocktail with 50 percent ABV would be 100 proof.
Different Types Of Alcoholic Drinks By Alcohol Content
There are numerous various types of alcohol, and some contain more alcohol than others. Higher-alcohol-content alcoholic drinks are able to induce intoxication and alcohol poisoning faster and in smaller amounts than other types.
Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage throughout the world. In fact, after water and tea, beer is the most frequently consumed drink on the globe. Beer is also likely to be the world’s first fermented beverage.
A beer’s ABV (alcohol by volume) is between 4% and 6%. However, some brews have higher or lower concentrations of alcohol. For example, “light beers” have an ABV of between 2% and 4%, whereas “malt liquors” range from 6% to 8%.
Ales and lagers are the two most common types of beer. The distinction between the two relies on how the beverage is produced as well as the yeast employed during fermentation. Typically, ales have fuller color and flavor, and lagers are crisper, cleaner, and lighter.
Wine is yet another popular and included in the ancient types of alcohol. These days, you can find various types of wine ranging from red, white, pink, and even sparkling.
Wine is usually around 12% ABV, although some types of wine have higher alcohol content. For example, “fortified wines” can be up to 22% ABV. These are typically used as digestifs or after-dinner drinks because of their high than typical alcohol concentration.
Champagne, a popular sparkling wine, has an ABV of around 10% to 12%. Some wines have been “fortified” with distilled alcohol and fruit juices. Port, Madeira, Marsala, Vermouth, and Sherry are examples of fortified wines. They’re usually around 20% ABV.
Red wine, white wine, rose wine, sparkling wine, and fortified wines are the most common categories of wine. The distinction between them is primarily due to the sort of grape used in the production process.
- Red Wine -The color of the wine is determined by the skins on the grapes. As a result, the red wine grapes’ skins are left on throughout the fermenting process. Some examples of red wine are Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- White Wine – White wines differ from red wines in that they are white (or yellow) and their skins are removed before the fermentation process. Examples of this are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Moscato.
- Rose Wine – Rosé wine is a pink-colored wine made from grapes that aren’t cultivated in particular varieties. The color of rosé wine comes from the fact that winemakers begin with red wine grapes but eliminate them during the fermentation process when they are pleased with the color.
- Sparkling Wine – Sparkling wines, like rosé wine, are made from a variety of grapes. The winemaking technique determines the style of sparkling wine. Sparkling wine is almost always carbonated and has a pale color when bottled. Champagne is a popular style of sparkling wine.
- Fortified Wines – A fortified wine is an oddity among all of the types of alcohol on this list. That’s because they’re made up of both fermented and distilled ingredients. Fortified wines have had distilled alcohol added to them in order to raise the ABV. To provide them with particular tastes, spices and herbs are frequently included. Some examples of this are Sherry, Port, and Vermouth.
It is a popular alcoholic beverage in Japan, and saké, a well-known Japanese drink prepared from fermented rice with an alcohol concentration of around 16% ABV, is made from 100 percent sake.
Cider is made by fermenting apples, and it usually has an ABV of around 0.05% to 12%.
Mead is a fermented beverage made from honey, water, and yeast. The alcohol content in mead can range from about 0.05% to 20%, with the average being around 12%.
Distilled Drinks (Liquors and Spirits)
Juniper berries are used to make gin. It has a flavor that’s comparable to G&T, but it’s lighter in alcohol content (35-55%).
It’s been made in the same way since at least 1650 in Scotland. Gin is produced from the flavor of juniper berries (Juniperus communis). The origin time for the drink is around the Middle Ages when it was initially a natural remedy before becoming a significant commodity in the hard liquor trade.
This is one of the most widespread types of spirits, with juniper as a common component. Gin nowadays is made in a variety of ways, using a diverse blend of herbal components, resulting in many distinct varieties and brands.
Brandy is the resulting product of wine distillation. The concentration of alcohol in brandy varies from 35% to 60%. One famous brandy, Cognac, has a 40% ABV.
Brandy is a distilled wine, as are other liquors. Brandy is usually 35–60% ABV and consumed as a post-dinner digestif. Some brandies are stored in wood barrels. Rest are colored with caramel to simulate the effects of aging, while few others are made by combining both processes.
Wine brandy is a common component in wine cocktails. Cognac and Armagnac are two well-known varieties from south-western France. Thus, the term “brandy” applies to alcoholic beverages produced by distillation of pomace or the distillation of some other fruit.
Whiskey are distilled beverages that are produced from fermented grain. The ABV of whiskey can range from 40% to 50 percent.
The alcoholic drink known as whiskey is made from fermented grains. Barley, corn, rye, and wheat are among the grains utilized in various kinds. Whisky is commonly aged in oak barrels that have been charred white oak.
Whisky is a legal beverage that comes in a variety of classifications and varieties. The fundamental combination of these various types is grain fermentation, distillation, and aging in wood barrels.
Rum is a distilled beverage produced from fermented sugarcane or molasses that has a 40% alcohol content. Some rum is “overproof,” which means it has an alcohol concentration of at least 57.5% ABV. The majority of overproof rum reaches 75.5 percent ABV and equals 151-proof rum, exceeding the required minimum.
The drink we know as rum has a long and varied history. It is made from fermented sugarcane or molasses and typically has an alcohol concentration of 40%. However, some rums are “overproof” with alcohol concentrations of at least 57.25% ABV. The vast majority of overproof rum exceeds this range.
One of the most popular types of alcohol is Rum, which is made from sugarcane molasses or juice that has been fermented and distilled. Rum is one of the most common forms of spirits, and its clear liquid is frequently aged in oak barrels. Although rum may be produced in a variety of locations throughout the world, it’s mostly associated with the Caribbean.
There are several types of rum, each with its own distinct flavor profile. Light rums are usually used in mixed drinks, although “golden” and “dark” rums were generally consumed straight as ice (“on the rocks”). Rum is also utilized to prepare a variety of sophisticated cuisine, including cakes and desserts.
Tequila is a kind of spirit. The Mexican agave plant is the primary component of tequila. Tequila has an alcohol concentration of about 40 percent ABV on average.
Tequila is a colorless alcoholic beverage produced from the blue agave plant, which is mostly cultivated in the area surrounding the city of Tequila in Guadalajara’s north-western outskirts and the central-western Jalisco region.
Tequila is produced from the agave plant and comes from the same regions in Mexico as mezcal. The distinction is that tequila is solely manufactured from blue agave and in various methods. Tequila is commonly served with meat in Mexico, and it’s a hero at bars where it’s served as a shot with salt and lime all around the world.
There are three types of tequila: Blanco, reposado, and añejo. Blanco is the most common and is also called “silver” or “white.” Reposado, which means “rested,” is aged for two to twelve months in oak barrels. Añejo, which means “aged” or “vintage,” is aged for a minimum of one year but less than three years in oak barrels.
Vodka is a beverage popular in the United States that is produced from fermented grains and potatoes. It has an average alcohol concentration of 40% ABV, which is one example.
Vodka is a transparent distilled alcoholic beverage that comes from Poland and Russia. It generally consists of water and ethanol, with small additions of flavoring. It’s usually produced by distilling the liquid from potatoes or cereal grains that have been fermented. Some of today’s most popular brands include fruits or sugar as their foundation.
Absinthe is a high-strength, highly alcoholic spirit. It is distilled from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of the Artemisia absinthium plant, also known as “grande absinthe” or “absinth wormwood”.
Absinthe does not appear to be a hallucinogen based on available evidence, but it is quite alcoholic. Some absinthes have an ABV of around 40%, while others contain up to 90% ABV.
Everclear is a brand of highly concentrated ethanol alcohol. It is made by redistilling pure grain alcohol. Everclear has a minimum ABV of 60%, but it can also have 75.5% and 95%.
Mezcal is a smoky-tasting spirit that frequently gets confused with Tequila. It’s made from agave and has a pungent, smoky fragrance. The Agavaceae family contains almost 200 different species, of which the mezcal agave is one. The mezcal agave has large, thick leaves with serrated edges and a pointy tip. It takes around eight to ten years for the plant to mature and be ready for harvest.
While tequila can only be made from blue agave, mezcal can be made from any type of agave. It takes seven to fifteen years for a plant to mature, depending on the species and how it is grown. Agave fields are common in the semi-arid regions of Oaxaca State, as well as a few other locations in Mexico.
The most common types of mezcal are made from espadín and tobala agaves. Mezcal can have an ABV of anywhere from 40% to 55%.
There are a few more types of alcoholic beverages that you’ll frequently encounter behind the bar that don’t quite fall into one of the above categories. That’s why we’ve organized them separately here.
Cocktail bitters and Alcopops, also known as ‘Ready to Drink’ or RTDs, are two variations on the theme.
Yes, believe it or not, that little bottle of cocktail bitters we bartenders use to flavor drinks contains alcohol. Cocktail bitters are created from spirits and various herbs, spices, and botanicals.
Cocktail bitters are only used to flavor a cocktail and not as the drink itself, so w left them out of the liquor category.
Angostura and Peychaud are the most well-known brands of bitters. Even those that don’t create mixed drinks often have it in their establishments.
Alcopops (RTDs – Ready to Drink)
Alcopops are carbonated spirits and mixers in a can or bottle. They’re made out of a distilled spirit and some sort of soft drink (soda, fruit juice, milk, etc.) to reduce their strength. They’re sometimes referred to as “ready-to-drink” bottles since they’re ready to consume right away.
Some well-known brands include Breezers, UDL’s, Whisk(e)y & Cokes from a variety of manufacturers, and so on.
So there you have it! A crash course in the three different types of alcohol, their alcohol content, and some popular brands in each category. Take a break and try to digest everything you learned, because it is a lot. We hope you found this post informative and helpful. As always, drink responsibly! cheers.
What is your favorite type of alcohol? Let us know in the comments below!
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