Lauren Clark is the publisher of drinkboston.com (Bars, bartenders and imbibing in Beantown), a freelance drinks journalist and a former bartender and brewer.
So, you failed to heed the advice in How to drink all day at Tales without getting (too) drunk? Time to break out the hangover remedies, my friend.
What richer subject is there for armchair physicians — and philosophers — than The Hangover? There are almost as many kinds of hangovers, and almost as many ways of heading them off, bludgeoning them into submission or bowing down before them in misery, as there are drinkers.
Last year, a New Yorker article dug deep into the world of hangover remedies, dividing them into two major types: folk (Russians swear by pickle juice and vodka) and pharmaceutical (preventive pills like RU-21 — get it?). Pickle juice and vodka? Yow. When it comes to folk remedies, I’ll stick with eggs and BC Headache Powder. Or… a steaming hot shower. A dip in an ice-cold pond. A double espresso. A nap. (As for preventive pills — that’s cheating!)
When we talk hangover cures, one thing becomes clear: they’re all primitive. And the prospect of more sophisticated treatment options is dim. That’s because no upstanding research institution is willing to do what it takes to find a silver bullet for the effects of overconsumption: bankroll a massive study involving a large population of drunken (read: difficult to control) human test subjects who, most people think, deserve to suffer the consequences of their folly anyway.
So, the hangover is here to stay. The best thing to do about it, then, particularly as Sunday morning at Tales of the Cocktail rolls around, is get together for morning-after drinks with a room full of other bleary-eyed sufferers at Paying the Piper: Your Hangover and You.
Attendees will be in the learned and compassionate hands of moderator Wayne Curtis, Atlantic Monthly drinks correspondent and author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. We’ll also be subject to the tough love of panelist John Myers, a “saloonist” from Portland, Maine, and co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail. (A surefire way to get a hangover is to accompany Myers for drinks at Portland’s Commercial Street Pub.)
I asked Curtis for a little preview of the session, and he began with an assurance. “At this point, I’m confident in proclaiming some of the things that attendees will NOT be subject to:
Loud and cacophonous music
Bright flashing lights
Mandatory deep thrust squats
The smell of boiled cabbage
Live demonstrations of [For the sake of those who may actually be reading this with a hangover, I'll leave out what Curtis said about hurling, toilets, and pubes].”
Much appreciated, Wayne.
He adds, “I’m also confident that this WILL be part of the seminar:
In fact, the Fernet Branca Cocktail, along with the Vampiro and the Bullshot, will be the session’s representatives of the “many drinks reputed to bring morning-after relief.” God, I hope they work. Then again, the suffering that afflicts our bodies during a hangover often carries our minds into the realm of the philosophical and poetic.
Accordingly, “There will also be some discussion of the hangover and literature,” says Curtis, “and a small theory as to why there’s far more great writing about hangovers than there is about being drunk: because one’s hangover is both The Odyssey and The Iliad writ small. The themes: hubris, belief in one’s immortality, the abrupt correction of this belief, one’s generally unsuccessful fight to return home, and the comeuppance of the hero, who is now required to crawl on all fours like an infant or a geriatric.”
I’ll gladly crawl on all fours to the Hotel Monteleone at 10:30 on a Sunday morning to spin such gold out of my hangover.