You don't always plan on getting drunk, it usually just sort of happens, right? You finish one beer, move on to the next, and all of a sudden you're a six-pack in and feelin' it. And when you're drinking in places you're not supposed to, it can get ugly.
You get sloppy and start hugging strangers. You can walk, but not straight. Now you're getting kicked out of the bar and drunkenly Facebooking your ex-girlfriend to tell her you miss her. You throw up in your friend's car and wake up the next morning in a strange place. And if you didn't take the necessary steps to prevent it, you've also got a pretty shitty hangover.
I've been there, and it's not pretty.
If you haven't worked on increasing your alcohol tolerance, what can you do to keep from embarrassing yourself, while still enjoying your night out? According to Jim Koch, the co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company (better known as the guy in all the Sam Adams commercials), the secret to drinking all night long without getting drunk is yeast.
Apparently so. Active dry yeast, commonly used as a leavening agent in baked goods, contains a group of enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH). ADH, which is found naturally in humans and other animals, assists in the breakdown of alcohols that would otherwise be toxic to the body.
Artist rendering of the ADH enzymes
Through evolution, ADH has primed itself to break down the alcohols naturally contained in fruits and vegetables or produced by bacteria in our digestive tracts. Liver cells are the only cells in the body that produce enough of ADH to successfully break down alcohol at a significant rate, but not enough to keep us from getting drunk when heavily imbibing.
Since active dry yeast contains ADH, if we consume it before drinking, the enzyme will be able to attack the alcohol in the stomach first—before it gets into the bloodstream and ultimately the liver.
As a rule, Koch states that you should have "One teaspoon (of the yeast) per beer, right before you start drinking." Mix the yeast with some yogurt (or other tasty treats) and eat it before you start downing drinks.
Now when you drink, you should be able to handle more alcohol with the yeast and ADH in your stomach than you would naturally. And don't worry, ADH only stifles the effects of alcohol, and by no means eliminates the buzz that you get from drinking. It might just take a little longer to get there.
Be forewarned, this technique is geared toward those times when you're out for a while and consuming many drinks throughout the night, but don't necessarily want to get drunk. This is not for binge drinking.
You'll still get highly intoxicated if you're binge drinking, but there are some things you can do to make sure you don't end up with a deadly hangover the next morning, like take vitamins, eat a hearty meal, drink water, avoid dark drinks, and drink the good stuff (or at least make your crappy vodka and wine taste better).
When you don't have time to hunt down some active dry yeast and don't want to bother with preventing a hangover, you can make it feel a little bit better when you wake up by eating some eggs and drinking baby solution, or try sweating it out with some moderate exercise, if you can manage.