Hair Of The Dog Remedies For Your Apocalyptic Hangover
Illustration by Mr Angelo Trofa
There is no such thing as a hangover cure. Medical science would appear to concur, too. No double-blind randomised control trial attests to the efficacy of egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, activated charcoal, milk thistle or Pepto-Bismol. Blood transfusions and electroencephalograms show some promise, but should probably not be attempted by the amateur. Water helps, everyone knows that, but only up to a point and if you drink too much prior to sleeping, you’ll keep needing to get up, thus further disturbing sleep.
Sleep! Yes, the most effective cure is sleep, but somehow it is also the most elusive. The effects of alcohol might help you drift off, but it will never aid deep, restorative sleep.
No, in the absence of some over-the-counter panacea, all that the hungover gentleman really has at his disposal are strategies. A common one is the “full English breakfast” method: toss as much fried food as you possibly can down the hatch in the hope that various fats and grease will somehow “soak up” the residual alcohol in the system. There is often a certain camaraderie in the eating; it is in the digesting that the problems abound.
Alternatively, you can opt for the “smash and grab”, vigorous physical exercise immediately upon waking. A run or (better) a swim can zhuzh up the old outlook. But not only does this require superhuman resolve, a cardiologist recently told me in grave terms that it is an extremely effective way of giving yourself a heart attack. So be warned.
Which brings us to the detox. Seek out fresh fruit, miso soup or ginger tea. Avoid meat fat, excessive caffeine and the temptation to eat a family packet of Wotsits in one sitting. But this requires a monkish disposition and an unusually disciplined fridge.
But the truth – the truth that no doctor is willing to countenance – is that the only thing that provides immediate relief is simply getting back on it again. “Take the hair, it is well-written/ Of the dog by which you are bitten,” as the Greek comic poet Antiphanes apparently said in 400 BC. Happily, cocktailing lore provides us with a litany of corpse revivers and stomach revivers and eye-openers that help you push reset on your hangover. Here are five options that should see you through to 2 January at least, whereupon you know where to turn to.
Campari has splendid stomach-soothing properties and is excellent in the morning. It’s also the basis of the classic Venetian spritz. If you substitute the traditional white wine for kombucha, you can make a “healthy” version.
100ml plain kombucha
You can make this in an old-fashioned glass or a wine glass. Either way, fill it with ice, pour in the Campari and kombucha and stir. Drop in a half lemon slice and a plump green olive on a long stick to garnish if you fancy.
The Breakfast Martini
Such a simple cocktail, but so effective. I prefer to omit the Cointreau that’s called for in most recipes; marmalade adds all the sweetness you need as well as turning it into a morning drink.
15ml lemon juice
15ml marmalade (approx 1 heaped dessertspoon)
15ml egg white (optional)
If you are using egg white, shake all the ingredients hard without ice and then again with the ice before double straining into a martini glass.
The Dr Henderson
Mr Fergus Henderson, chef-patron of St John in Clerkenwell, is a very talented drinker. He has a particular way with simple, unfussy combinations that work at any time of day, such as this go-to hangover cure with its base of Fernet Branca, the bitter Italian herbal liqueur.
50ml Fernet Branca
25ml crème de menthe
Pour the liqueurs into a tumbler. Add plenty of ice. Stir.
The Bloody Maria
The central architecture here is tomato juice, lemon and spice – all rich in amino acids, B-vitamins and so on. Worcestershire sauce and celery salt are traditional; Thai fish sauce, fresh clam juice and even beef stock have all been known to work. To my mind (and palate), the traditional vodka is a bit of a waste. Tequila has a vegetal note that goes wonderfully with tomato and spice; and mezcal oomphs it up a little more. You might pep up this up with a little port, sherry, Guinness, red wine or Fernet Branca, whatever you have to hand, to be honest. Here is my go-to version.
50ml tequila (or mezcal)
100ml tomato juice (you can use the drained juice from a tin of tomatoes if you like)
Dash of fino sherry
Dash of Campari
Dash of Mexican hot sauce (Tapatio and Valentina are good)
Salt and pepper
Place the tequila and tomato juice in the cocktail shaker without ice and stir. Add the other ingredients in stages, tasting as you go. Freshen with lemon, season with salt and pepper, then add ice cubes. Pour into a tall glass, garnish with celery and a lemon wedge.
The Corpse Reviver #2
The Corpse Reviver #2 is one of the most celebrated creations of Mr Harry Craddock, fabled head bartender of The American Bar and the (credited) author of The Savoy Cocktail Book. The lemon juice purifies, the liqueur adds a sherbet-like sweetness, the Lillet makes it feel sophisticated but it’s the absinthe that lends the drink its peculiar insinuating quality.
20ml gin 20ml orange liqueur
20ml Lillet Blanc (or sweet white vermouth)
20ml lemon juice
2.5ml absinthe (approx 1 tsp)
Shake hard with plenty of ice and double strain into a cold cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.