When you’re sitting down to imbibe in a good cocktail at a bar, the last thing you want to think about is how much bacteria is in your drink. But no matter how good the bar, between the garnishes sitting out and the ice in your drink, it’s there. Most of it won’t harm you, sure, but it’s still a bit alarming to think about how your Moscow Mule could give you an infection.
So what’s a drinker to do? Choose whiskey, one study says. Findings recently published in the medical journal Springer evaluated how different types of bacteria survive in ice. They found that 31 species of bacteria were found in bar ice, from Staphylococcus aureus (which can cause staph infections) to Bacillus cereus (which can lead to food poisoning symptoms) to Acinetobacter baumannii (can cause pneumonia and meningitis).
When scientists mixed up different cocktails to see how the bacteria-infected ice faired, they found that only one spirit killed them all—whiskey. Vodka didn’t kill any of them, and mixers like Coca-Cola and tonic only killed some of them, but whiskey eliminated them all.
While this study is enough to scare us off Martinis, research wasn’t done to see how likely these bacteria, when present, were to make you sick. But if you’re a whiskey drinker, now you have one more reason to stay loyal to your favorite spirit.