Hangover Remedies: A History, Past & Present

While most people were focused on finding the perfect gift this holiday season, we were working on finding the answer to a much more pressing problem: how do I get rid of a hangover? Pose this question to a group of friends, and you will most likely accrue a diverse set of responses. Some say green juice, others say cheeseburger. Is there no middle ground?

The remedies we’ve been reading up on come from around the world and throughout history. The logic behind them is absolutely disputed, and we can offer no proof of their efficacy, save for our own experience. While some have stayed on as cures for our 21st century hangovers, others (wrapping your head in cabbage leaves, say) have been left behind for good reason.

Hangovers are a problem in every culture where drinking takes place, so naturally, the solutions are culturally diverse. But we noticed a few commonalities in the way humans tend to handle their next-day suffering. In Korea, haejangguk (which literally means “soup to chase a hangover”) is often made with congealed ox blood or blood sausage. Eastern Europeans favor a similar remedy of tripe soup. Personally, I have resorted to a breakfast instant ramen on more than one very hungover occasion. 

Whatever the background, everyone seems to agree that hangover food is a very real and very necessary part of feeling better. The Germans even have a word for it—Katerfrühstück. It’s a meal that usually consists of rollmops (pickled herring rolled around a savory filling), pickled gherkins and other briny tasting foods, which sounds kind of similar to the saltiness of a pickle-garnished Bloody Mary. The takeaway: restoring your sodium levels is important.

We came up with a timeline of some of our favorite historical curatives, in case you want to party like it’s 1899.

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—  ANCIENT EGYPT  —

CHAMAEDAPHNE GARLAND

A wreath of leaves worn around the neck

—  ANCIENT ROME  —

RAW OWL’S EGGS or FRIED CANARY

As suggested by Pliny the Elder

—  MIDDLE AGES  —

RAW EEL

Presumed to come alive in one’s stomach and drink up excess alcohol


— LATE 17th C. —

GODDARD’S DROPS

Later referred to as King’s Drops, after Charles II purchased the recipe for a hefty sum—an herbal elixir containing spirit of hartshorn (ammonia), skull of a person hanged, and dried viper

— 1800s —

SOOT IN MILK

One lump of fresh soot dumped into a glass of warm milk

— 1845 —

FERNET-BRANCA

An Italian amaro, 
consumed by the glass


— 1861 —

THE CORPSE REVIVER

As published in Punch Magazine: 
a combination of Cognac, Calvados, and sweet vermouth

— 1878 —

THE PRAIRIE OYSTER

Raw egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper

— 1915 —

ASPIRIN

Take two tablets with water


— 1931 —

ALKA-SELTZER

Introduced to the market to cure a host of issues, including a hangover

— 1930s —

THE BLOODY MARY

A drink of disputed origin, comes
onto the scene

— 1938 —

COCA COLA & MILK

As served to guests at the Ritz Carlton Hotel


— 1957 —

FRIED FOODS, TOMATO JUICE, & SEX

A Michigan college survey finds there is a widespread belief their efficacy

— 2012 —

REHYDRATION VIA IV

Hangover Heaven, a clinic that administers a saline mix of vitamins and antioxidants intravenously, opens in Las Vegas.

 

We also consulted with some of our favorite imbibers on how they remedy a night out... The suggestions were decidedly divided — from healthful elixirs to more booze or meds to some good old greasy, fatty meals.

NATALIE JACOB

Bartender at Dutch Kills in Long Island City, NY and The Archer in Jersey City, NJ and cocktail blogger at Arsenic Lace

There is a fizz I love to drink when I'm hungover actually called the Electric Current Fizz. 
2 oz gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
white of one egg
club soda

Combine all ingredients in a tin adding the egg white last. While you're separating the egg, instead of discarding the yolk, put the yolk in a shot glass with 2 dashes of hot sauce, a dash of Worcestershire sauce,and  a dash of salt & pepper. Dry shake ingredients in your tin, then add ice and shake again. Pour into a small Collins glass and top with soda.

You're supposed to shoot the egg yolk mixture first and then chase it with the fizz. Just enough alcohol, fizz and protein to keep your hangover at bay!


photo by The Staycationers

photo by The Staycationers

EMILY ARDEN WELLS

Cocktail Writer at Gastronomista

A hangover is certainly an occupational hazard of being a cocktail writer, and I have been known to suffer my way through one or two. 

I have a range of cures depending on how bad it is.  Light hangovers I can usually remedy with Kombucha, there's something about the probiotics that work well for me.  My favorite hangover cure is an intense workout at the gym.  It can be really hard to drag myself to the gym after a long night out, but I force myself to get there so that i can sweat it out.  Working out forces me to drink tons of water, and helps flush out the previous evening's cocktails.  Afterwards I try to eat a nutritious meal, something with lots of protein and vegetables to get myself back on track!

 


LESLIE BISHOP

Co-Founder of Brooklyn Mamas

So I swear by liquid vitamin B for a hangover cure.  That plus drinking an elixir in the morning of warm water, lemon, cayenne, turmeric and ginger…Kind of re-sets the body.  If that all fails- a good old fashioned bloody mary does the trick EVERY TIME….hair of the dog.

 


PRAIRIE ROSE

Cocktail Writer at Bit By a Fox

Hangover remedies, ah yes. I don't have any magic tricks but there are a few things that I stick to when I find myself in that unfortunate situation and feeling a little worse for wear. One is coconut water to get rehydrated. My fave is Taste Nirvana, pulp-less, please. It actually tastes really good and I crave it when I'm particularly dehydrated. I also crave fresh squeezed OJ. For some reason, this always makes me feel better. I think it's partly psychosomatic, but I'm sticking to it! The third thing is extra strength Alka-Seltzer. It has a little medicine to make that headache go away and the bubbles are soothing on the tummy. But the most important thing that is SUPER necessary for a hangover that I often don't get to indulge in, is....SLEEP. That's really the only thing that really helps knock it out. If I get to have all of the above, I'm just a little less frayed around the edges.


DALE TALDE, DAVID MASSONI, & JOHN BUSH

Partners, Three Kings Restaurant Group (Talde, Massoni, and more to come...)

 

 

 


DALE TALDE

Gatorade lemon lime / 2 liquid gel Advil / Bacon, egg and cheese on a roll 

DAVID MASSONI

2 Excedrin extra strength / 1/2 a Xanax / 1 Immodium / a quarter pounder with cheese meal

JOHN BUSH

Gatorade Arctic Blitz or Glacier Freeze with two Alka-Seltzer right into the Gatorade