Most of the time, we hit the gym before a night out to compensate for the high caloric intake inevitable with alcohol consumption. However, alcohol interferes with the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, which is known to be involved with protein synthesis—the reason we grunt through our workouts in the first place.
In a 1985 study, it was found that "acute EtOH (alcohol) intoxication suppresses muscle protein synthesis for at least 12 h," and a 2014 study showed that alcohol ingestion "suppresses the anabolic response in skeletal muscle and may, therefore, impair recovery and adaptation to training and/or subsequent performance."
What's more, it appears that alcohol consumption affects males more than females. When comparing a study on men and a study on women, there appears to be a gender difference. It is hypothesized that men are more affected because alcohol can be harmful to testosterone, and has been suggested that perhaps an injection of estrogen in men can reduce the negative effects of alcohol post-gym.
However, a study in 2018 found that "after a non-novel heavy eccentric resistance exercise bout, alcohol did not affect soreness or recovery of muscular power" in men. In this study, 10 weightlifting men did 4 sets of 10 back squats and drank either Crystal Light or Crystal Light with vodka. They performed physical tests that measured vertical jump, change-of-direction, and sprinting.
After 1 week, the same 10 men were called back to do another 4 sets of 10 back squats and drank a different drink than the previous week – those who drank Crystal Light in the first week drank Crystal Light with vodka the following week and those who drank Crystal Light with vodka in the first week drank Crystal Light the following week. They performed the same tasks again, and it was found that soreness and vertical jump height did not significantly differ between the two conditions. The authors concluded that consuming alcohol after back squats—familiar exercises that weightlifting men perform—did not necessarily induce any noticeable short-term effects.
So, the question comes down to: should you go to the gym before going out to a party? Perhaps not working out altogether might actually be better for your body if you are planning on consuming alcohol!