The smell lingers as long as you’re drunk
because it’s not coming from residual booze in your saliva, it’s the smell of your blood
itself. When you drink an alcoholic beverage, ethanol
(the active ingredient that gets you drunk), is absorbed into your bloodstream. Ethanol is a volatile chemical (i.e. it evaporates
easily), so when alcoholic blood passes through your lungs, some of the ethanol evaporates
into the air that you exhale. It’s this process that allows a breathalyzer
to measure BAC based on your exhalation and brings gives you that recognizable smell.