’Tis the season of excess. But with these hangover cures from seasoned bartenders, you should bounce back in no time.
What exactly is a hangover? Basically, it’s a set of symptoms that occur after excessive drinking. The symptoms can range from fatigue to thirst, headache, nausea, muscle aches, stomach pain, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, sweating and so on.
Alcohol may be the main culprit, but there are other substances in drinks which play spoilsport too. Congeners, which are substances apart from ethyl alcohol produced in the fermentation process which contribute to the taste and smell of alcoholic beverages, can be responsible too. That’s why all hangovers are not the same. Generally, the darker the spirit, the higher the level of congeners and the worse the hangover. Sulfites, which are used in wines as preservatives, can cause headaches in some people too.
One of the primary causes of a hangover is dehydration. Other causes include gastrointestinal irritation, inflammation caused by alcohol, acetaldehyde exposure caused by alcohol metabolism in the liver, and the mini withdrawal once the buzz wears off. Hangover symptoms start tapering off after the alcohol concentration in the blood reaches zero, but they may take up to 24 hours to subside completely.
Of course, everyone has their pet cure to fix a hangover, everything from papaya to raw eggs, drinking coffee to taking a shower and, of course, the legendary ‘hair of the dog’ cure. Shortened from ‘hair of the dog that bit you’, the expression comes from the method of treating a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. Applied to drinking, it means having a small alcoholic drink the next morning to fix the hangover. There are similar expressions and fixes across cultures and countries. In Denmark, for instance, a beer the day after drinking is called a ‘reparationsbajer’, which translates to ‘repair beer’. The Danish also have a saying: “One must rise at the tree where one fell.” What this does is provide a temporary hiatus from the hangover by lessening the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal — but it’s not really a cure.
If you ask the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the US what they think of all this, they will tell you that the best remedy for a hangover is to either not drink at all or to drink only in moderation. That may be a tough ask in the festive season, so we asked some leading bartenders to share their own time-tested hacks to fix this niggling problem.
Sarath Nair, Bar Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru
“Alcohol has a reputation for robbing the body of hydration and vital nutrients, the effects of which are never as fun as the night before,” says the seasoned bartender from the Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru.
Here are Sarath’s handy hints to conquer that nasty hangover:
- Drink enough water and rebuild hydration. But, of course, everyone knows this.
- Eat well the next day, stocking up on complex carbohydrates and foods especially high in antioxidants like cherries, grapes, pomegranates, carrots, spinach, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds.
- One can also consume lime-infused water to which a dash of grated ginger has been added as it’s a great antioxidant too.
- Check out the product Morning Fresh, which is available online in different flavours.
Gaurav Dixit, Operations Manager — Beverages and Sommelier at The Leela Palace New Delhi
“Drinking excessively dehydrates you by making you pee a lot. The dehydration causes the hangover, making you feel uneasy and drowsy,” says the master sommelier at The Leela Palace New Delhi.
These are the ninja techniques Gaurav relies on to keep hangovers at bay:
- Always drink lots of water. After every drink, take a little break and have half a glass of water.
- Have better quality spirits and try not to mix your drinks.
- Have a proper meal afterwards. It should be high in carbs and protein. Never sleep on an empty stomach.
- Have at least half a litre of water before going to bed.
- If you get up in the night to pee, have a glass of water at the same time.
- Coconut water is a great hack and quick fix for a hangover.
- And the award for best hangover cure goes to: idli-sambar for breakfast the next morning.
Varun Sharma, Beverage Manager, Comorin
“The higher the alcohol content and the faster you drink it, the worse the hangover,” says the talented mixologist whose superb cocktails and affable persona have garnered him a devoted following.
These are his hangover hacks:
- Hydrate yourself: Drinking water is the best way to avoid or cure a hangover. Drinking water while consuming alcohol not only keeps you hydrated but also slows down your overall consumption of alcohol.
- Eat: Having a good meal (good protein and healthy fats) before you start drinking helps in slower absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Having eggs, bananas, ginger and coconut water during a hangover lowers the hangover effect and also gives nutrition to the body.
- Avoid sugary and aerated mixers with alcohol. Simple water, fresh lime, fresh juice, and coconut water are the best mixers.
- Time: The more time you take to finish a drink while hydrating alternately with a glass of water, the lower will be the absorption of alcohol in the blood.