Of Recent Note

Hangover Cures

Robert Benchley once quipped, “The only cure for a real hangover is death.” Though ultimately true, right now there are holiday parties to attend. The writers offer solutions for the morning after.

The holiday season is upon us, whether “us” likes it or not. With all the eggnog and champagne and holiday punch and that awful, but amazing, gingerbread cocktail your aunt makes, not to mention the fact that you’ve already started celebrating 2008, well, you need this. You need something to cling to in the wee hours of the afternoon as you crawl out of bed and drag yourself into the shower. These are the hangover remedies that will guide you to a happier place, a questionably safer place, a headache-free place, at least until your office holiday party tonight.


Life is good, but life is not fair. While many people I know can hop out of bed after a boozy night with spring in their step and a twinkle in their eye, I wake up feeling like I’ve wrestled with a whisky-soaked grizzly bear, lost, and therefore had to let the bar use my mouth as a garbage disposal. When this happens (which is rarely, Mom, I swear), there are two things that offer hope for repair and restoration: tomatoes and Aleve. I have no idea how it is that these two random and very different remedies work, but for me at least, they do. Something, something, something—citric acid—something, something—Jesus—something—miracles—and I’m back in my seat at the bar in time for happy hour. —Nicole Pasulka


My best advice, especially if you are alone, is to be as kind to yourself as possible: Take a blanket, a box of lightly salted crackers, and Vitamin Water in Formula 50 to the couch, put on a period drama, and escape from the little hell inside your body. I recommend Formula 50 because it tastes like a much-lower-in-sugar version of grape Kool-Aid; have it ice cold, and sip it slowly. Don’t rush the crackers. I find it best to take a big bite and let it dissolve in my mouth. Remember, the more you digest it before swallowing, the less work your angry, vengeful stomach has to do. A period piece—such as Gosford Park, Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility, or the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth—will softly and gently take your mind off your suffering, which is of utmost importance. Without loud noises or dangerous situations to quicken your pulse, or sex scenes to remind you of how gross you feel, a period piece provides the perfect recovery entertainment. After two hours of British accents and funny hats, if you still don’t feel right, put in another one. Eventually you’ll be able to move without heaving. —Meave Gallagher


Our New Year’s tradition is an after-prom party. We don dubious retro formalwear, take a limo out for a “nice” dinner at a midrange Italian eatery, then head back to a hotel suite for bed jumping and the cheapest champagne ever to win FDA approval. Every year I fail to monitor my intake, but one year was particularly noteworthy. The next morning, while the guests brushed off confetti and headed out for a greasy breakfast in rumpled formal wear, I stayed behind to spend quality time with the floor.

My friend Josh asked if he could get me anything. I moaned and tried to will away the sweat beading on my forehead. He returned with two bottles of Odwalla. I drank the Superfood while I was still horizontal, but by the time I finished the C Monster, Jesus rays were breaking through the clouds. When the damage is done, Odwalla will pick you up, dust you off, and kiss you on the mouth. It’ll make you question whether last night was as epic as you thought. You’ll eventually recall that it was. —Margaret Mason


A hangover is only as bad as the obligations you must meet the next day. A friend of mine, when we were in college, often said after a night of drinking, “I’m going to treat myself to a hangover,” and would wipe his slate clean. It was an excuse to pamper himself, albeit with a headache. I happen to be married to a man who doesn’t get hangovers, no matter how much he drinks. This used to be annoying, but in recent years I’ve come to appreciate the advantages. He treats me to a hangover. I get to slow down, even wallow, until I feel better, and he takes care of everything else. I’m a big fan of the more-grease-the-better school of hangover management, so fried egg sandwiches on bread slathered with mayonnaise or butter (depending on the level of residual nausea) are a favorite. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend the samosas from the dosa cart in Washington Square Park. Order two for three dollars and eat on a bench in the sun. —Jessica Francis Kane


Toast: It’s not scientific, it’s just comforting. Sure, the bread is probably good for you and perhaps counteracts the poison eating away at your insides, but it’s the warmth, the satisfyingly crisp crust, the small moment of normalcy in a potentially hazardous day that makes for a hangover remedy. If you’re up for it, add butter; if you feel like you deserve a reward for your excellent behavior, drizzle a little honey on there, too. However, if you’re feeling particularly self-flagellating, burn it—burn it deep and dark, just like those secrets you shouldn’t have told everyone last night. —Bridget Fitzgerald


Upon waking, rate your level of regret on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is “I don’t! It was great fun!” and 10 is “Please post my bail.” Less-than-4s are going to work. If your answer is between 5 and 9, call in sick; you will not be productive there. (If your answer is 10, you’ve already been fired.) Next, 5-through-9-ers, pour a packet of Raspberry Emergen-C in a glass of water and consume. Then pour yourself another glass of water, and then another—do not stop drinking water! Alternate your drinking with sleep for the next 20 hours. If you are in the 6-to-8 range, you may also want to take a bath or shower of shame. If you are a 9, take two and think extra-hard about what you did. You may not get off so easy next weekend. —Heather Rasley


If not tequila shots and champagne, then a bubbling gratin dauphinois. There’s nothing quite like a medicinal dose of hot cream and potatoes. I love Jeffrey Steingarten’s cheeseless recipe (from his book It Must’ve Been Something I Ate). I serve this at a party at three in the morning and everyone goes hog wild. —Rosecrans Baldwin


My friend Greg recently had a rough night out with some old high school pals while he was visiting his parents back in London, Ontario, where we grew up. The next day, he had a wedding to go to, but was too hungover to get out of bed. Greg’s dad, a widely known transplant surgeon, had the perfect solution: He hooked Greg up to an IV drip. Within hours Greg was on his feet and feeling splendid. —Pasha Malla


I’m a strong believer in cutting through a hangover with spice and acid, plus a hair or two of the dog that bit you. (If your hangovers leave you burpy and ulcerous, however, you might want to avoid this.) Normally I like to make things from scratch, but the morning after a wild night, I’m about as gourmet as Rachael Ray. Here, then, is my favorite post-party breakfast. Serves two.

  • Coffee
  • Excedrin Migraine
  • A very hot shower
  • Brain-Dead Bloody Mary (two glasses of Spicy Hot V8, two shots of vodka—any kind will do—ice, celery, lemon, if desired)
  • No-Hablo-Español Huevos Rancheros:
    1. Open and drain a 15-oz. can of black beans
    2. Toss into a medium-hot skillet with a glug of olive oil and some salt and pepper
    3. Stir in about half a cup of your favorite hot salsa and, if you need more liquid, add water to just barely cover
    4. Simmer until beans soften, about 10 minutes, adding water and reducing heat if it gets too dry (you want it the consistency of a thick chili)
    5. Meanwhile, crack and fry up four eggs in copious olive oil until edges are crispy, whites are just set, and yolks are still runny
    6. Divide beans onto two large soup plates
    7. Top with two eggs each
    8. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
    9. Top eggs with shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream, if desired
    10. Serve with soft flour or corn tortillas

Liz Entman


After one martini, I slur. Which also means that after one martini, I wake up with a mild headache, slightly shaky hands, and one jigger’s worth of self-loathing. Why do I try to even approximate keeping up with people who can metabolize the stuff? Luckily, one drink only does so much harm, especially when one fourth of it is olives. I undo any strain on my poor nerves with a B-vitamin supplement. My stupid headache goes away with excesses of room-temperature water and coffee with way too much half-and-half. Don’t give me guff for my hydrate/dehydrate combo. I am a woman with few vices and I’m clinging to the few I have. —Lauren Frey


These other jokers are going to feed you a buncha baloney about how you should swallow three tablespoons of honey or take a hot shower or swing a dead cat by the light of the waning moon, but let’s face it: There’s really only one method of getting rid of a hangover that has been SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN by ACTUAL RESEARCHERS in WHITE LAB COATS: You drag your sorry ass out of bed at 4 a.m. (you’ll be awake anyhow, as your body cranks up its adrenaline production to counteract the fact that you spent the previous evening pouring toxins down your gullet), force down a couple of aspirin, and bolt two or three pints of water as a chaser. Anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you a dead cat. —Matthew Baldwin


All right, this is a cheat because it’s a preventative rather than a cure, but what the hell. You know how fruity drinks will knock you flat? But also how they’re so effing delicious? It’s a conundrum on par with skinny jeans that make you look fashion-forward but also fat. At any rate, when you’re making fruity drinks for your girls’ night in, slip some vitamin powder in the last couple rounds. The ladies will be too illuminated to notice, and you’ll preserve everyone’s brunch plans. Golf claps all around. —Margaret Mason


I once read that the best hangover remedy was popping a vitamin B pill before you go to bed. But I never remember to do this. I’m always too drunk. Therefore, the morning after my rager looks a bit more desperate: I glug Gatorade like a marathon runner, take a long hot steam bath, and return to bed with an ice pack on my head. Sometimes the ice is too cold (ice=cold!), and it melts down my face, but eventually I discovered I could get the same soothing effect by placing the ice pack underneath my neck. Something about the sinus cavities or something. Who knows? My bed looks like I wet the sheets with my eardrums, but it brings me some blessed relief. Later in life, I discovered Xanax, which is like all these things at once, without the messy accoutrements. But Xanax is a prescription drug that (apparently!) is addictive. All I know is, if you’re headed to Mexico this Christmas, do give me a shout. —Sarah Hepola


One glass of water, two tablets of Alka-Seltzer, plop-plop-fizz-fizz, and back to bed. —Andrew Womack

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers