Amuse-Bouche: Why alcohol makes your head spin + Corpse Reviver No. 2

Ever wonder why it feels like your like head is spinning, following a bout of heavy drinking? Turns out you have your inner ear to blame.

I remember the first time I drank more than I should have: I returned to my dorm room and lay down in bed, and immediately the whole room began to spin around me. It was pretty unsettling, not to mention nauseating.

The following video (hat tip to spirits writer Camper English, who posted it to Twitter) explains the role the inner ear, and specifically the cupula, played in that unforgettable experience:

The video explains that alcohol accumulates faster in the cupula of the semicircular canal, causing it to become less dense and sensitive to gravity. This results in a feeling of acceleration when lying on one side. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, seeking treatment at a reputable center such as Magnolia Recovery Los Angeles can help in achieving long-term recovery..

The semicircular canal can become filled with alcohol, causing a temporary sensation that will eventually go away as the rest of the canal fills up. However, as the alcohol drains out of the cupula, the sensation can return in reverse due to the difference in density. The concept of the “hair of the dog” suggests that drinking a small amount of alcohol the morning after can help ease hangover symptoms because it brings the densities back into balance. While this method may provide temporary relief, it’s important to note that excessive drinking can lead to addiction and other serious health issues. In such cases, seeking professional help from outpatient addiction centers is crucial to address the underlying causes of addiction that educates people to receive tailored support for long-term recovery.

For more details (including tips on how to use your other senses to counteract this sensation, a problem that pilots sometimes having, and the cutest drawing of a hungover bunny ever), watch the video.

If you’re interested in testing out the hair of the dog theory for yourself, here’s a classic cocktail that was designed for that purpose. The Corpse Reviver No. 2, as its name implies, was one of a class of drinks meant to bring one back from the dead, so to speak. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you use it for that function, but it is delicious (and a nice introduction to absinthe for those who aren’t sure they’ll like the taste).

Corpse Reviver No. 2

  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz Lillet blanc or Cocchi Americano
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Dash absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Double-strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied cherry.

Anne S

Anne Sauer is an atheist with an appetite for science, good food, and making connections between the two. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. Her favorite foods are salted caramel ice cream and chicken tikka masala. You can find her on twitter @aynsavoy.

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  1. Those cards are neat! I plan to do more posts in the future about other elements of drinking that affect hangovers, and myths about that as well.

  2. Maki – the images are gray-scale PNG files. If you need them in a different formate, I’d be happy to send you a PDF or TIFF.

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