How To Ace The Party Season (And Not Let It Kill You)
Choosing the right strategy can make the difference between hangovers from hell and merry gentlemen
The modern party is not limited to a singular event. It is an interminable series of pre- and post-event gatherings that will exist for perpetuity on social media where they can be relived ad infinitum by total strangers. So, unless you possess the relentless stamina of a man under the age of 30, pace, forward planning and moderation are your best allies during the party season (as is the ability to dodge a smartphone camera).
This is not what the eager party-goer wants to hear. But, should you wish to welcome the New Year with your vital organs intact, then a little bit of restraint will go a long way. Equally, any debauchery you do permit yourself should be countered with a reasonable amount of downtime (or “rest days”, to use gym jargon) and some cunning hangover tricks.
Granted, rigid planning takes all the fun out of partying. But we’re not suggesting that you suppress your innate desire to go hard on each and every occasion. Just for 80 to 90 per cent of them.
When you consider all the invitations that land on your desk, there will be some that you simply don’t want to attend and others that are logistically tricky. The vast majority of invitations will be for “soft” partying and polite conversation: work drinks with your bosses, family events, the village carol service. These are not the moments to mainline espresso martinis and test drive your Despacito routine.
Pre-booking your cab home and deciding what – and how much – to drink before the event will provide flexible boundaries during a season that can quickly spiral out of control. But, most importantly, it ensures you will be firing on all cylinders for the 10 to 20 per cent of parties in your calendar that you actually do want to attend. These are the nights when spontaneity rules and you can make poor choices that will exist forever on social media.
Canapés are not meals
Man cannot subsist on smoked salmon blinis and cheese straws alone. Prepping your stomach before you have your first drink is essential if you plan on avoiding nausea or an end-of-the-world hangover. Alcohol works its way through the walls of your stomach and into your bloodstream with ease, so the more food you have in there, the less likely it is that your drunk and disorderly Mr Hyde will make a cameo appearance mid-conversation. Chances are you know this already. But do you know what to eat?
Rather than prepare for the pre-party while knocking back pre-aperitifs, line your stomach with healthy fats, protein and low-GI carbs. A complete macronutrient profile is important because the carbs will keep your blood sugar up, while the fats and proteins, which take longer to digest, will slow down the rate at which sambuca floods your insides. A portion of salmon or chicken breast with some avocado in a wholemeal wrap is a good choice, not least because it will keep you full enough to avoid dietary self-sabotage at 2.00am when a Domino’s pizza sounds like a good idea.
Maintain energy levels
Pity the party-goer who burns out before Christmas Day. B12 is one of eight B vitamins that converts the food you eat into glucose, which in turn gives you energy. It’s unlikely there will be much kicking around your bloodstream by mid-December. The best way to top up your levels is not via some pedestrian pill – your gastrointestinal tract will destroy most of the good stuff that’s in a supplement – but by mainlining it into your system intravenously for instant results.
IV bars are a staple in every major city – Hangover Heaven in Las Vegas, Revive in Los Angeles and Nosh Detox in London. Vitamins tend to work synergistically rather than in isolation, according to Ms Geeta Sidhu-Robb, the founder of Nosh. “You’re never going to be deficient in just one thing,” she says. “If you’re low on B12 during the party season, then I need to look at the other end of the spectrum for deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, too. That’s why I always put B12 in a drip along with calcium and magnesium.”
Nosh’s Hangover Cure is a blend of B vitamins and vitamin C along with other water-soluble vitamins that will be depleted after a night on the tiles. “If you know that you’re going to be drinking, you can get a drip before or after, but it’s always advisable to get one before, because you’ll recover faster,” says Ms Sidhu-Robb. “Between now and January, I’ll take one a week.”
Beat the bloat
Over-indulging at this time of year is par for the course. Unfortunately, it can come with weight gain and uncomfortable bloating, not just around the waistline but on your face, too. Bloating can happen fairly instantaneously, either as an inflammatory response in the gut lining or, more commonly, as a result of the body trying to hold on to whatever residual water is left in your system post-binge.
Bloating is especially common if you have an intolerance to gluten (see our advice on gluten face), which won’t just be in party food, but in beers that contain wheat or barley. If you don’t have an intolerance and you’re just caning it until January, then cut back on sugary mixers, cocktails with flavoured syrups or food that’s loaded with salt as they’ll only exacerbate the feeling of expanding into a giant blimp.
It will also pay to stock up on probiotics, such as The Nue Co. Milk Protein + Gut Food or Bodyism Ultra Probiotic, so that your gut health is in top condition. A daily dose of herbal remedies such as nettle, dandelion and milk thistle will help the body detoxify throughout the season. The latter contains the active ingredient silymarin, which strengthens and protects liver cell walls while supporting regeneration.
Choose your poison wisely
“Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” or “Beer before liquor, you’ve never been sicker”. Or something like that. Whatever the order, it is your choice of beverage that will make a tangible difference to how you feel the morning after. Some drinks pack more alcohol into a smaller volume than others. Ergo, necking shots of absinthe (45 per cent to 74 per cent ABV) will leave you in a worse state than, say, a couple of beers (roughly 5 per cent ABV).
Less well known is the influence of congeners on hangovers. These substances are a byproduct of the fermentation process and can linger long after alcohol has left the body (as is the case with methanol). Darker drinks such as brandy tend to have higher levels of congeners than clear drinks such as vodka. Bourbon, for example, has 37 times the amount of congeners as vodka.
A study published in Alcoholism: Clinical And Experimental Research gathered 95 healthy young adults and got them wasted on caffeine-free cola mixed with bourbon, vodka or tonic water (who said science wasn’t fun?). The subjects were then hooked up to monitors that recorded their brain activity as they attempted to sleep off the booze. The findings revealed that, even though both the vodka and bourbon drinkers slept poorly, the bourbon drinkers were by far the most hungover. The moral of the story? Drink clear drinks. And consider signing up for more random scientific trials.