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Are You a Germaphobe? Switch to Drinking Whiskey ASAP

author image Cathleen Krueger
Hoku Krueger is a freelance writer who specializes in mental health, wellness and pop culture.
Are You a Germaphobe? Switch to Drinking Whiskey ASAP
Your cocktails are probably teeming with bacteria. Photo Credit: gregory_lee/iStock/GettyImages

Not that anyone needs another reason to drink delicious whiskey, but it turns out your hot toddy might be even better for you than you thought. Yep — whiskey actually has significant antibacterial properties. Awesome!

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The secret is in its acidity: While other alcohols have a more neutral pH — like vodka, for example, which has a pH of 6 — whiskey comes in at 4.2. And according to researchers who recently published a study in the Annals of Microbiology, the most common forms of bacteria cannot survive that much acidity. So, in other words, whiskey is not only the basis for yummy cocktails, it also doubles as a germ killer.

So how did the scientists conclude that whiskey will be the next big cold and flu fighter? Well, they started by looking into the bacteria that’s served on the rocks (aka the ice in your drinks), testing 60 samples of ice cubes produced at domestic, restaurant and industrial facilities.

They found more than 52 strains of bacteria on these ice cubes, some of which can cause infections in humans. And the worst part? Restaurants and bars had the germiest ice. Cringe.

Then, to see how effectively ice cubes can actually transfer those pathogens to unknowing consumers, the scientists contaminated the ice cubes with four of the strains they found to be the most prevalent. They dropped the cubes in vodka, whiskey, martinis, peach tea, tonic water and Coca-Cola and tested the remaining bacteria levels.

The results were that bacterial levels were reduced across the board, but not all the drinks killed the same amount of bacteria. Sorry, Moscow Mule lovers, but all four strains survived in vodka and peach tea. Martinis and Coke eliminated two of the strains, and one of the strains survived (and even grew) in the tonic water. Yuck!

That leaves whiskey as the superstar, which successfully killed all the strains of bacteria. Hurrah! Looks like they don’t call it a strong drink for nothing.

Another benefit of drinking some Scotch, bourbon or rye? Dating experts claim that ordering whiskey while on a first date can leave the impression that you’re sophisticated and in-the-know.

But beware: Adding mixers and toppings like lemons to your drink could bring all that bacteria back into play.

So if you want to stay in good health this flu season, make educated choices about where and what you drink. Most contamination cases are linked back to the people who prepare your food and drinks, so pay attention to sanitation ratings. And for your order? Opt for wine, canned or bottled beer or a good ol’ glass of whiskey.

What Do YOU Think?

What’s your go-to drink order? Do you care about bar cleanliness when you're out for drinks? Does this information surprise you, or did you have a feeling about all this already?

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