- A chemical substance found in drinks such as beer, wine, and liquor. It is also found in some medicines, mouthwashes, household products, and essential oils (scented liquid taken from certain plants). It is made by a chemical process called fermentation that uses sugars and yeast. There are different types of alcohol. The type used to make alcoholic drinks is called ethyl alcohol (ethanol). Drinking regular or large amounts of alcohol may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, breast, liver, colon, and rectum.