What a dream it would be to wake up after a relatively big night out without the dreaded headache, brain fog, nausea, anxiety, fatigue, thirst, muscle aches or any of the other tell-tale hangover symptoms. Although not everyone suffers from hangovers when drinking, that may just be due to what some people term their alcohol-tolerance, but is really just how their body metabolizes the alcohol and the subsequent residual symptoms. Any alcoholic drink is mainly comprised of ethyl alcohol, otherwise known as ethanol, however there are other core compounds that form the makeup of alcohol which are called congeners. Congeners are effectively a by-product of the process that manufacturers use to make ethanol – namely the conversion of the amino acids from fermented sugar into ethanol. Not all congeners are made equal however and are used to provide the alcoholic beverage with some of its key characteristics.

There are a number of factors that also impact the amount of congeners in any given alcoholic drink including the yeast strain that was used to ferment the sugar in the alcohol, the type of sugar itself and the carbohydrate. Congeners are also impacted by whether or not a grape or grain is used in the production process too. Some of the main congeners produced through the distillation process outside of alcohol of course, are ketones, acids and aldehydes. You may be wondering why this is of any consequence, however, some experts believe that it is congeners in alcoholic drinks that actually cause hangovers. Generally speaking, the darker the drink, the more congeners it contains, such as brandy or bourbon or even red wine. Experts have theorized that due to the impact that congeners have on the body, you will need fewer high-congener drinks to get a hangover than those that have significantly fewer congeners.

So, is there anything that can be done to avoid feeling these effects? Well of course, the easiest recourse is just to not consume alcohol, however for most that may not be a long-term or realistic solution. The good news is that there are a number of scientists working on synthetic ethanol alternatives which will potentially lessen the effects of drinking. The new compound goes by the name Alcarelle, and has been in the works for more than two years now, led by Professor Nutt of the Imperial College of London’s neuropsycho pharmacology department. The compound and its effects have only been tested by Nutt and his team due to the fact that it has yet to be approved by any regulatory board, however they believe that it offers the same feeling without the major consequences, and will have major long-term applicability in the alcohol market in future.