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.

How Much a Pint of Beer Will Cost You Around the World

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

After updating your passport and packing your suitcase, there's one last thing you should check before going on vacation: How much will a pint of beer cost at your destination?

Just as food and lodging varies in price from country to country, so does beer. To make sure you're prepared for whatever you find on beer menus abroad, The Wall Street Journal has compiled the average cost of a pint of beer in major cities around the world, using data from the travel site OMIO's Beer Price Index.

According to this data, Hong Kong is home to the most expensive brews, with bar patrons shelling out an average of $10.86 per pint in the city. Beer prices don't look much better in the U.S., where the average pint of beer at a bar costs $8.97 in both Miami and New York.

To find cheap beer, you need to head to Eastern Europe or South Asia. A pint costs an average of just $2.22 at bars in Bratislava, Slovakia, the cheapest of any of the cities the WSJ looked at. In Delhi, India, you can get a pint for $2.31, and in Kiev, Ukraine, you can find one for $2.36.

If you're factoring beer prices into your future vacation plans, check out the five most expensive pints and five least expensive pints by city below. And for a different way to look at international beer prices, here's how much beer you can get for $1 around the world.

Cities With the Most Expensive Pints of Beer

1. Hong Kong: $10.86
2. Geneva, Switzerland: $10.77
3. Tel Aviv, Israel: $9.53
4. New York City: $8.97
5. Miami: $8.97

Cities With the Cheapest Pints of Beer

1. Bratislava, Slovakia: $2.22
2. Delhi, India: $2.31
3. Kiev, Ukraine: $2.36
4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: $2.58
5. Kraków, Poland: $2.70

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]

10 Surprising Facts About America's Drunken Shopping Habit

iStock.com/MartinPrescott
iStock.com/MartinPrescott

If you’ve ever gulped down a few glasses of wine before logging onto Amazon, you might know that loosened inhibitions and the ease of one-click shopping can sometimes lead to some odd items turning up at your door. However bizarre the purchase, or steep the monetary damage, buzzed shopping happens. According to the results of the 2019 Drunk Shopping Census (yes, it’s a real thing), Americans spend an estimated $45 billion per year while under the influence of alcohol. These findings come from The Hustle, which surveyed more than 2000 adult Americans who drink alcohol.

The average survey respondent was 36 years old and earned $92,000 a year. Because of these skewed demographics, “The data presented here is by no means definitive or conclusive,” The Hustle notes. “Nonetheless, it still provides an interesting snapshot of the drunk shopping market.”

Here are a few of their findings:

  1. Kentuckians spend the most while drunk shopping, dropping an estimated $742 per year.
  1. The majority of respondents (79 percent) had made an alcohol-fueled purchase at some point in their lives.
  1. Amazon is by far the preferred retail outlet among drunk shoppers.
  1. The most common drunk purchases are clothing and shoes, followed by movies, games, tech, and food.
  1. Seven percent of survey respondents have gotten buzzed and bought software.
  1. Women are slightly more likely to drink and shop than men, but not by much (80 percent of women compared to 78 percent of men).
  1. Millennials are the generation most guilty of shopping while tipsy, followed by Generation X, then Baby Boomers.
  1. Of survey respondents who listed their profession, writers are among the people who are least likely to "drink and Prime."
  1. People who work in sports are the most likely to splurge while intoxicated.
  1. Some of the weirder purchases listed by respondents include: A full-sized inflatable bouncy castle, 200 pounds of fresh bamboo, the same vest that Michael J. Fox wore in Back to the Future, and a splinter that had been removed from former NBA player Olden Polynice's foot.

For more insight into the strange spending habits of inebriated Americans, check out The Hustle’s website.

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