Hangovers: the man, the myth, the legend

It’s quite possible that I’m writing this from a place of recently acquired wisdom.  OK, so it’s more than just quite possible.  A very long week with short sleep, a killer Pilates class in a room much hotter than normal, a minimal dinner of salad and my newest friend, gin.  Now, gin and I have been introduced before, and I’ve found I rather like it in certain circumstances.  Whiskey will always be my go-to drink, but gin has its place.  After doing an hour of Pilates in a room that felt like it was on the surface of the sun, I thought a cool, refreshing gin cocktail was just the ticket.  I’d done some experiments with various flavors before, and since I couldn’t decide, I busted out all the variations to see what struck my fancy.  I also didn’t realize that Distillery No. 209’s gin is 92 proof.   Not that that really has much to do with anything I’d guess, since the whiskies I drink typically start at 92. But, considering all the factors involved, I’m sure that didn’t help.

Armed with lavender (both bitters and an infusion), grenadine, simple syrup, Chambord and fresh limes, I set off down the path to my current state.  I was hanging out with my neighbor, so we were chatting and watching TV, so I likely drank a bit more quickly (and with less water breaks) than normal.  Cocktail #1 was lavender – which was pretty good. #2 was Chambord and lime – which was OK. #3 was grenadine and lime (hey, they’re expensive these days, so I wanted to make sure I used it once I cut it!) – that was interesting, but not anything I’d make again.  Off I went home, to watch a bit of TV and oh look! Tonic water.  Staring at the already-cut lime, I opted for a gin & tonic.  That was probably the final straw. I will spare you the gory details, (I had to send a text this morning that said it was the gin that texted, not me – HA!), but that’s how we arrived at this current state of hangover/less-than -fresh-as-a-daisy.  Which sucks, since it’s finally not 100 degrees outside, but I have little desire to go into the blinding light. But lucky for you, it does help me write this post and so hopefully you’ll learn a bit for your next night out.

Before you start drinking:

Hydration is key.  If you start out behind, you’re totally screwed later.  The tiny creatures with big hammers inside your skull? That’s dehydration talking, plain and simple.  A handful of aspirin isn’t going to help, unless it’s chased with a ton of water.  Coconut water is also a great choice.  I happen to like the taste no matter what the temperature, but if you plan ahead and put it in the fridge, a cold, refreshing, hydrating beverage will await you.  Just what your brain ordered and will thank you for by no longer attempting to leave your head via your ears.

Food! Eat a good meal before you start.  (ie, not just salad).  One thing to note though – give yourself a little time to digest.  The alcohol pretty much stops digestion and that can come back to bite you later. (that’s a literal statement, not a figurative one). The 2am tacos (or cheeseburgers or whatever) – not a completely horrible idea, but sometimes not the best.  The stuff you’re drinking has calories – and stuffing another 500-1000 into your mouth and stumbling to bed isn’t exactly helpful.

While you’re sucking down drinks:

Water. Yep, you’re sensing a theme, aren’t you.  Most recommendations I’ve seen are 1 glass of water per drink.  That’s a nice thought, but honestly, I’ve never seen anyone do it, including yours truly. But if you’re Hangovers preventednot having water in between drinks, at least try to pace yourself.  It takes a minute for the alcohol to hit your bloodstream, but once it does, it’s hanging around for awhile.  So if you drink too quickly, it may be a short night.


You’ve made it home. And please, don’t imbibe and drive – while Uber has come up short on background checks recently, it seems, there are cabs, public transportation, a friend that needs some cash so will drive your drunk ass around all night – whatever that is, do it.  No driving.

Before you fall into bed (or onto the couch), do yourself a favor and finally have some water. You can try a couple aspirin now – I’ve found that can be helpful. Keep that water by your side, you’re going to want it.

Anyone get the license plate of that truck!?

And before you know it, it’s morning (or perhaps early afternoon, who’s to say). If you did your prep, hopefully you’re a reasonably fresh daisy.  For those of you (and me) that didn’t, it’s time to assess and repair the damage.  Hydration is your BFF right now. Remember earlier when I said that alcohol was working its way around your body and it took time to really hit?  Well, it also takes time to be flushed completely out. I’ve read suggestions on saunas or hot showers, to help that process along.  If you can handle it, go for it.  Personally the heat is a little too much for me, so I tend to skip that.

Greasy food!  For me, that’s a go-to meal. Burgers, huevos rancheros, whatever I can get near.  Now, if your stomach is unhappy with you or you don’t normally eat that way, now is likely not the time to start. Though eggs have amino acids in them that will help, if you can’t tolerate them on a good day – this isn’t even a so-so day, so let’s not tempt fate.

“Hair of the dog” – leave it to the Norwegians to come up with a catchy phrase that translates to “push your hangover off til later and make it 10x worse”.  Yes, in the short term you’ll feel a bit better.  And if you don’t drink 15 Bloody Marys or mimosas, you might even survive it.  But as a rule – leave the hair on the dog and leave drinking more, as a “cure” for already drinking too much, to frat boys.

Coffee might seem like a good idea (there’s caffeine in Excedrin, so that must fix headaches, right?). But it’s another dehydrator.  Leave the latte til later. You might also skip your morning OJ – the acid might be hard on your stomach right about now.

hangovers_ecardTime is the only thing you can’t change or hurry along. Drinking water, eating something that works for you: you need to do those things, and also give your body a minute to regroup.  Grab a book (if you need a recommendation, check out my friends at For the Love of Books and Alcohol  but maybe skip the suggested drinks for now!) or grab the remote.  Your body will thank you for it!


About Jeanne Runkle

Jeanne Runkle currently lives in San Diego, and is a certified bartender and craft liquor expert. Her specialty is the brown stuff, whether it's bourbon, rye or good old American whiskey. She can sometimes be found stalking the aisles of a liquor store near you, answering your random whiskey questions.

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