To replicate a Canada Health Survey (CHS) study that found beer drinking was associated with lower morbidity, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data for 19,462 persons were used to examine associations between functional disability and beverage specific ethanol consumption. A functional disability index consisting of morbidity and symptom coping events reported for 2 weeks prior to the NHIS interview was constructed. Alcohol consumption was reported for the same period as disability (coincident recall), or for the 2 weeks prior to the respondent's last drink during the past year (antecedent recall). The analysis controlled for confounders using direct standardization and multiple logistic regression. The results of this investigation were not consistent with the CHS study. Former drinkers and antecedent recall drinkers reported greater disability rates than either non-drinkers or coincident recall drinkers. Antecedent recall drinkers exhibiting a preference for beer and wine were, respectively, 40 and 80 percent more likely to be disabled than non-drinkers. Further, this study found no evidence of a protective effect among any subgroup of drinkers. The finding of a significant interaction between alcohol consumption and alcohol recall period suggests that epidemiologic studies should give greater attention to the classification of drinker groups by proximity of alcohol consumption.