Some alcohol is immediately broken down in the liver.
The alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme converts alcohol into acetaldehyde. This is the chemical that gives you an unpleasant feeling after you drink too much. It causes side-effects like headache, nausea and vomiting.
Another enzyme, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, further converts acetaldehyde into acetic acid, or acetate, which is later decomposed into carbon dioxide and water.
In adults, the liver breaks down an average of 7 grams of alcohol per hour. In other words, it takes the liver about 90 minutes to break down an average glass of alcohol. The breakdown products are called metabolites.