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16 Answers
David Muccigrosso, MS Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis (2017)

There really is no “worst”, the biggest predictor of disease is the amount drank. BUUUT… I can at least give you a ranking on a “per-unit” basis from best to worst.

This is assuming 1 standard drink of each (so, 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of liquor). Also, I must note that since the amount of alcohol is standardize between those three, there’s really no chemical difference in the actual alcohol

  1. Beer. There’s a huge amount of variation in beer. But for mass-market domestics, they’ve got the least amount of fermentation side-products out of the three types. Those side-products are what make different beverages give you different types of hangovers.

    Beer also has the most water content, so it keeps you relatively more hydrated than the other two.

    The downside is that beer has a lot of sugar in it. So long-term, you end up slightly worse off due to excessive weight gain and the associated health risks.
  2. Wine. Wine has tannins, so it’s actually the most “positive” for your health out of the three. But that’s balanced out by the fact that it’s got all kinds of other side-products besides those tannins. You can’t get rid of them, though, because hey, those side products are exactly what wine is designed around and makes it taste so good.

    And you guessed it, the side-products are what give wine its notoriously bad hangovers, in addition to the fact that it’s got the least water content.

    Wine’s got just as much or more sugar content as beer, but you drink less of it, so it sorta evens out, but you still get more sugar per standard drink. Long term though, most wine drinkers drink less and drink less often, so they end up on top.
  3. Texas' New License Driver New Liquor. Liquor is the wierd one of the group.

    Vodka, especially the filtered stuff, has very little side products, so it gives a clean “buzz” and a clean-ish hangover.

    The other ones have more side products, and thus worse hangovers. Dark or light, liquor also tends to have the least sugar in it. Pair it with a diet soda for mixer, and it’s effectively the “lite” alcohol of the three. Water content is low, but since most people user mixer, it kind of balances out with beer.
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    But. But, but, but.

    Liquor is the easiest to abuse for most drinkers. Easiest to pair with mixers, lowest sugar/hangover effects, cheapest per standard drink (30 shit beers is ~$20, whereas ~18 shots in a fifth of cheap liquor is ~$10), and easiest to conceal a nasty habit of, it’s the number one choice of alcoholics.

    So liquor gets the nod as the very worst.
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