Does Drinking Alcohol Really Keep You Warm When It's Cold Out?

Joe Robbins / Getty
Joe Robbins / Getty

Daven Hiskey runs the wildly popular interesting fact website Today I Found Out. To subscribe to his “Daily Knowledge” newsletter, click here.

Here's something tailgaters, ice skaters, skiers and other cold weather fans might want to keep in mind: Drinking boozy beverages will make you feel warmer, but it doesn't actually keep you warm or prevent hypothermia. Instead, drinking alcohol lowers the core temperature of your body.

According to Dr. William Haynes, director of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Iowa, “Consumption of alcohol undoes many of the human body’s healthy reflexes, one of which is keeping the core body temperature warm in cold weather.” It doesn’t even take that much for this effect to kick in—just one alcoholic drink will start the process that results in a lowered core body temperature.

How does alcohol do this, and why does drinking alcohol make you feel warmer, even though you actually are getting colder?

You Booze, You Lose (Heat)

Alcohol is a vasodilator. It causes your blood vessels to dilate, particularly the capillaries just under the surface of your skin. When you have a drink, the volume of blood brought to the skin’s surface increases, making you feel warm. (That dilation is why slightly or exceedingly intoxicated people look flushed.) This overrides one of your body’s defenses against cold temperatures: Constricting your blood vessels, thereby minimizing blood flow to your skin in order to keep your core body temperature up.

Someone enjoying a drink in the cold may feel warmer from the extra blood warming his skin, but that blood will rapidly cool thanks to the chill in the air. Plus, the warmth caused by blood rushing to the skin will also make him sweat, decreasing his core temperature even further. The rapid drop often occurs without the drinker realizing it, because his skin will still feel fairly warm, which makes it doubly dangerous to drink alcohol in extremely cold weather. (You might want to put down the coffee, too; caffeine has a similar effect.)

The Big Chill

This isn’t the only bad thing about drinking alcohol in the cold. According to a study done by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, drinking alcohol in chilly weather also reduces the body’s ability and tendency to shiver, taking away yet another method your body uses to help keep warm when it is cold.

Bottom line? The age-old practice of drinking alcoholic beverages to keep the body warm in cold weather is the exact opposite of what you should do.

All Aboard! Mexico Is Now Home to an All-You-Can-Drink Tequila Train

iStock.com/Clicknique
iStock.com/Clicknique

If you like the idea of taking a booze cruise or imbibing while flying (on a craft beer flight, that is), then you may enjoy the hooch caboose. As Delish reports, the latest in luxury, alcohol-packed travel comes from Jose Cuervo, which is now operating an all-you-can-drink tequila train.

That’s right: You can now hop aboard the Jose Cuervo Express and slam shots or sip tequila sunrises while traveling in style from Guadalajara in western Mexico to—where else?—the city of Tequila. The deal includes round-trip train transportation and bottomless drinks at the open tequila bar, plus snacks. Guests will also get to join a separate tequila tasting with experts, take a tour of the Jose Cuervo distillery in Tequila (the oldest one in the Americas), and take in a Mexican cultural show.

The Jose Cuervo Express has been around a while, but the round-trip, all-you-can-drink tequila experience is new. Since 2012, the train has been operating regular “sunrise” and “sunset” hours, offering guests a morning train ride to Tequila with an evening bus ride back to Guadalajara, and vice versa.

Prices for the new experience start from $111 on the Travel Pirates website, but the cost depends on the exact package you choose. If tequila isn’t your cup of tea, you might prefer the Mayan train line that’s slated to connect some of Mexico’s most famous pyramids and sites. Those plans are still a work in progress, though.

[h/t Delish]

LEGO Pop-Up Bars Let You Build While You Drink

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Do you like LEGO bricks? Do you like making the task of assembling hundreds of tiny plastic pieces harder by becoming inebriated?

If so, nothing you read today could be more relevant to your interests than the news that a series of LEGO-inspired pop-up bars are headed for Houston, Denver, and other U.S. cities.

ABC13 reports that some block-headed entrepreneurs have devised the Brick Bar, a high-concept watering hole that allows visitors to play with over a million LEGO bricks and enjoy LEGO displays while drinking and socializing. The idea, according to the Brick Bar website, is to appeal to someone with nostalgia or affinity for LEGO sets who is also of legal drinking age.

The bars have already debuted in Australia and will be coming to London and Manchester, England, this spring. It’s likely the stateside bars will reproduce some of the more popular attractions, including building contests, hamburgers with buns shaped like LEGO bricks, and a gauntlet for brave souls who are willing to attempt to walk across a line of bricks in their bare feet.

The company behind the pop-up, Viral Ventures, specializes in unique attractions. In the past, they’ve promoted Hot Tub Cinema Club, where patrons watched films while soaking in portable hot tubs. But their LEGO-themed idea hasn’t been without complications.

While LEGO itself offers alcohol at some of the company's official resorts, including California’s LEGOLAND, the company isn’t thrilled about being associated with a third-party bar or with people trafficking in their trademarks: Their legal overtures led Viral Ventures to change the name of the pop-up from LEGO Bar to Brick Bar. The only mention of LEGO on their website is in the disclaimer: “We are not associated with LEGO.”

[h/t ABC13]

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