A Moment of Science

Want To Drink Less Alcohol? Change Your Glass.

Does drinking from a curved glass increase the chance that you'll drink faster?

beer floats on a wooden beam

Photo: James Lee (Flickr)

How do you drink less?

So let’s say you’re at a bar, and the bartender gives you two glasses full of beer. One is a regular straight sided glass, the other a curved, “beer flute” type. If you were to drink from both glasses, which would you consume faster?

Consuming Faster

That’s the question British researchers explored in an experiment involving 160 drinkers who, it should be noted, were not alcohol dependent. And the curious answer they discovered was that those who drank from a curved glass imbibed nearly twice as fast as those who sipped from a straight sided glass.

What’s Going On?

The researchers suspected that it has to do with the difficulty of determining the midpoint of a shaped glass. And sure enough, when the participants were shown computer images of the two types of glasses containing different amounts of liquid, they had a harder time judging whether pictures of curved glasses were more or less than half full. Plus, those least able to judge whether a glass was more or less full tended to be the fastest drinkers.

This matters because, generally speaking, the faster you drink, the more intoxicated you become. And the faster you drink, the more you’re likely to drink in a single session with your friends. Drinking more slowly, on the other hand, correlates with less alcohol consumed and less drunkenness.

So, based on the study, drinking from a curved glass increases the chances that you’ll drink faster and therefore drink more. Insofar as binge drinking is a problem, using straight instead of curved glasses might help people keep their drinking more under control.

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