If Certain Alcohol gets you So Emotional” Consider a Bar Makeover”

Ever felt like you could lift a car after a shot of vodka? Or needed to find a cozy fireplace to snuggle up to after red wine? Turns out these urges may be more than the product of marketing campaigns, but a physical response to the alcohol itself.

A recent study published by the BMJ Open suggests different types of alcohol actually do elicit different emotional responses — both negative and positive. Researchers polled roughly 30,000 individuals aged 18-34 to see how they felt after their favorite libations. Here is a quick-take on their findings:

● Red wine → Relaxed and sexy

● Beer → Relaxed but drowsy, confidence boost

● Spirits → Energized and sexy, but also aggressive and teary-eyed

● Hard alcohol → Very aggressive, restless, teary-eyed

There is other evidence to suggest these responses are not merely psychological. Red wine, for example, contains melatonin which many recognize as the chemical that tells our brains to go to bed. Beer, having many carbohydrates, creates drowsiness (and bloating, which decreases that “sexy” quotient).

While there are still many questions to answer regarding the physiological effects of alcohol, the BMJ Open study confirms there are distinct responses to what we are drinking. I wonder: Is there a way for restaurant and bar owners to use this information to better shape their dining experience?

Without delving too deeply into the complicated discipline, there is a philosophical-architectural camp that believes in the emotional power of a space. Perhaps the most famous notion is feng shui, the Chinese system of harmonizing inhabitants with their surroundings. Beyond comfortable bar-stools and a hip soundtrack, restaurants could pair their alcohol with an ambience fitting its emotions.

Let’s take beer, for instance. If it causes drowsiness and a confidence boost, it seems to make sense to make a gastropub well-lit — this doesn’t mean fluorescent light-bulbs, but a softer but well-lit space will keep patrons from falling asleep, and the ale’s self-esteem-generating effects will keep patrons comfortable in a somewhat brighter area.

On the other hand, a wine bar may want to create a cozier, darker space, where customers can let their sexy aliases take over. In the winter spirit, throw on the classic “Fireplace” video on TVs.

A space with a lot of spirits and hard alcohol presents an interesting opportunity as well. If drinkers tend to become aggressive or restless, give them something to do. Arcade games, or something like ice hockey or shuffle board, will give those irritated hands something to do while they suck down their gin and tonics. If the space allows it, a small dance floor is an excellent option. You could even provide some adult coloring books or board games — anything to keep these patrons engaged and out of the bathroom where those drunk-tears are likely to flow.

So next time you want to shake things up, turn on Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” and brainstorm how that tequila is making you feel — and make your bar match it.



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