"A hangover is the wrath of grapes."
With so much collective experience on the subject and, in our pursuit of a Nobel Prize, we here at the Chicago Bar Project have decided to share our collective wisdom on a subject that has undoubtedly affected the vast majority of our readers, perhaps as recently as last night: hangovers.
We begin with the words of one of America's most beloved founding fathers and a man that was undoubtedly familiar with the subject, Benjamin Franklin: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." In this spirit, we believe the best hangover remedy is simply this: two Alka-Seltzers before bed. I first learned of this practice from my wife, but actively resisted trying it until one-too-many-mornings-after of waking up at 3pm, with what felt like a herd of elephants ridden by Wisconsin mahouts thundering through my head. I finally gave Alka-Seltzer a shot and never looked back. Thank god for Costco and their man-sized Alka-Seltzer box containing 116 packages, especially after a night of whiskey at Delilah's or Duke of Perth. Upon seeing the giant neon sign at the factory outside of Cologne, Germany, I found a new deity to worship in the form of Bayer AG: The God of Hangover Prevention. Additional Chicago Bar Project tip: use cool water to dissolve the Alka-Seltzer tablets as they take longer to dissolve in very cold water.
"Two heads are better than one. Unless you have a hangover."
If you've had an all-day drinking session, have an average night with my friend Sebastian, or are visiting New Orleans, we recommend you partake in a greasy meal (in addition to Alka-Seltzer) before retiring for the evening (or morning). Preferably, your post-inebriate nosh will take the form of a burrito, cheeseburger, late-night breakfast, or other food item that is similarly greasy. If you're in Chicago, I highly recommend ordering huevos rancheros at Taco Burrito Palace #2 at 2459 N. Halsted. It's not on the menu, so just mention my name and, if you need to use the restroom, it's through the kitchen. A steak burrito at Burrito House on Lincoln, just south of Addison, is also an appropriate substitute. For anyone heading to La Bamba for a burrito as big as your head, I offer my condolences to the lining of your stomach, particularly if you had the chorizo. People sometimes ask me if there is a Taco Burrito Palace #1. My answer is that I don't know, I don't care and I don't want to talk about it.
"Is there anything more miserable than a hangover? Not only does a proper hangover—and by proper I mean the sort brought about by drinking until you think you can drink no more and then drinking another seven pints—feel like a slow, lingering death must feel, it is also the one complaint for which it is impossible to get sympathy."
– excerpt from Learning to Teach with a Hangover by Jon Barbuti (2006)
If you've neglected the advice above, if you drank enough beer to fill Montrose Harbor, and if you've exercised particularly bad judgment with several shots of Jägermeister or Irish car bombs towards the end of the night—or if you did all of the above, perhaps in your own Five Stages of Drinking—you will have to focus on damage control and calling in the big guns. This is why the Irish developed the "Traditional Irish Breakfast." In Ireland, they call it simply a "fry" as everything on the plate is fried: eggs, sausages, rashers (Irish bacon), black pudding (don't ask), white pudding (don't ask x2), hash browns, beans, and even the tomato. Even the brown soda bread is often fried though, if it isn't, one is required to slather it with (full fat) Irish butter. A fine Irish breakfast can be had all day at such fine Chicago pubs as Irish Oak, Hidden Shamrock and Abbey Pub.
"Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again..."
– excerpt from Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1964)
If all else fails, the only remedy short of slipping into a self-induced coma is The Hair of the Dog Remedy. This idiom refers to the ancient belief that, if bitten by a rabid mongrel, putting a hair of the dog that bit you into the wound would prevent the victim from acquiring hydrophobia (rabies). While this wisdom led many to wind up foaming at the mouth, it has been extremely effective in relieving hangovers. The simple idea is that a relatively small amount of alcohol can assuage even the most raging hangover, whether it be in the form of a beer, a shot of whiskey or, the author's favorite, a Bloody Mary—as long as it is not made by a maniacal bartender who wishes your hangover to merely be delayed until the next day. For example, after a lengthy drinking session on my first night in Copenhagen, I was forcibly made to drink Tuborg by my Danish host—a beer I fell in love with the day before, drinking it along the city's picturesque canals, but which I had come to despise the next morning. This single beer got me back into the swing of things after choking it down. Fortunately, the next morning, hot bread from the bakery around the corner was administered prior to bed... Ernest Hemingway is said to have relieved his own, presumably numerous hangovers with a remedy he named “Death in the Afternoon” after one of his novels, which consisted of absinthe topped off with champagne. While no scientific evidence exists as to the efficacy of this time-honored hangover remedy, it is our belief that at least 60% of the time, Hair of the Dog works 100% of the time.
"When a man has had a debauch, he is advised to take next morning 'a hair of the same dog,' in allusion to an ancient notion that the burnt hair of a dog is an antidote to its bite."
– excerpt from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (1905)
Further remedy can be had from drinking as much water as you can stand, getting back into bed as soon as possible after breakfast at whatever time of day that happens to be, and by yelling at children. Things that should be avoided with a hangover: conventions, mothers-in-law, tapioca with a hair in it, Bourbon Street at 9am on Sunday, sitting next to a cappuccino machine, lectures on statistics, polka music, curdled egg nog, younger siblings, the middle seat of the middle row of a Boeing 777, archery, sour candy, New Orleans in August, high-speed cutting equipment, bowling, restrooms in the St. Petersburg shipping terminal and at Indiana gas stations, politicians, operating aircraft or heavy machinery, any beverage of a green color, garbage trucks, driving 20 hours straight, any references to The Magic Pudding, mountain roads in Colombia, lettuce, marathons, Memphis, and carpentry.
“He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him, he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak, he will be suffering from a hangover. At present it is half past eleven in the morning, and according to his schedule he should have started work two hours ago; but even if he had made any serious effort to start he would have been frustrated by the almost continuous ringing of the telephone bell, the yells of the baby, the rattle of an electric drill out in the street, and the heavy boots of his creditors clumping up the stairs. The most recent interruption was the arrival of the second post, which brought him two circulars and an income tax demand printed in red. Needless to say this person is a writer.”
– George Orwell
Everyone knows that the only way to really prevent a hangover is not to drink in the first place, but what fun is that? Hangovers, after all, reminds us what it feel likes to be alive by allowing us to feel the opposite, and to appreciate all those blessed times when we are not hung over. Should you feel inclined to share your own hangover remedy or more interestingly, your hangover stories, please email us. Until next time, bottoms up and don't forget the Alka-Seltzer...
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