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Is ‘snakebite’ just a mixture of lager and cider, or a chemical reaction between the two? © Alamy

Is ‘snakebite’ just a mixture of lager and cider, or a chemical reaction between the two?

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Asked by: Simon Bartlett, via email

There’s no chemical reaction, because the main ingredients are the same: water, alcohol and carbohydrates. So the drinks just mix together. Despite the fact that some bars refuse to sell snakebite, the beverage is actually no more deadly than a pint of beer or cider alone – both drinks tend to have a similar alcohol content, so mixing them just produces a drink of a similar strength.

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The feeling of getting drunk quicker is likely to be purely psychological.

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Authors

Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.

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