In the news · Notes from West London

The perfect hangover recipe

Last week there was a seasonal news story about hangover cures. I caught it on Breakfast TV rather than in print, and offer this link, from the “Birmingham Live” website, with the details. Titled “Ultimate hangover cure discovered by boffins in time for Christmas party season” it suggests these ingredients: 65% pear juice, 25% lime juice and 10% coconut water. Sounds delicious. Also, “You can boost the healing effect by eating cheese, tomato and cucumber at the same time”.

I have had a few hangovers since returning to the world of beer, wines and spirits in 1997, but usually do not require cures such as that discovered by the “boffins” quoted above. Sleep is my main hangover cure, and most of my boozy nights out are arranged to allow for as much time in bed the next day as possible. There have only been two occasions in the last 10 years when my hangover was far worse than I had allowed for, specifically because I was out much later than planned and didn’t get enough sleep. Both times involved an extended stay at the old 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street, and one of them gets a mention in this piece. No harm was done in either case: the hangovers blighted non-working days. My children were slightly inconvenienced on one of those occasions (a Sunday in December) because I was in no fit state to drive them to the “Christmas Party” at their dance school, so we had a 12-minute walk there and back instead. The “Christmas Party” was in fact an over-priced pre-Christmas performance which, as with every other event at that school, started and finished much later than announced. This at least gave me an extra hour “resting my eyes” in a quiet corner while they were sitting around in the dance studio waiting for the technical issues to be sorted.

Last weekend, as December replaced November, and the season of Advent began, I was out most of the night at a friend’s 50th birthday party. I had rearranged our Sunday in advance, allowing for the likelihood of my returning home late and under the influence: I would take the children to mass at 12.15pm rather than 9.45am.  As things turned out, I had to adjust the timings again, and we went to the latest available mass for the First Sunday of Advent, at 6.30pm. I had returned home on Sunday morning just before 5am, on a Mobike. I got up twice before noon, once to make sure that I had locked the bike properly and had not left the meter running, so to speak, and again to confirm our new timings with my daughter. I was not hungover. I was still drunk from the night before, and felt tired, but had minimized the chances of a hangover by sticking to the same basic drink all night long: fizz (prosecco, Cava or actual French champagne) with a dash of Blood Orange Cointreau. There was lots of rum and tequila on offer but I managed to resist the former, and do not plan to drink the latter ever again.

I had wondered, planning for the weekend’s celebrations, whether to stock up on pear juice, lime juice and coconut water to try out the boffins’ recipe. None of those ingredients are regular items on our shopping lists. In the end I didn’t buy any of them, and figured that, if necessary, I could try out something that we do have plenty of: Diarolyte. These sachets of “Oral Electrolyte Powder” are designed to replace “essential body water and salts in the treatment of acute diarrhoea”, according to the instructions, but a friend recommends this formula as his number one hangover cure. As Sunday afternoon progressed, I had no need for Diarolyte or any other kind of cure. Our roast beef lunch, around 2pm, and a mid-afternoon doze did the trick.

Unlike the scientists working on hangover cures I cannot recommend a formula that improves on simply sleeping it off, but the following all have some value: fizzy water, no dairy, tomato juice, toast with Marmite (no butter), fried eggs, McDonalds meals. I can, however, recommend a recipe that induced my worst hangover of the last 20 years, courtesy of a cheese and wine event back in 2015 at the primary school that both of the children attended. It goes like this:

  • 3 glasses of Prosecco
  • 3 glasses of assorted white wines
  • Cheese and biscuits
  • 2 glasses of Chilean red wine
  • Other, unmemorable red wines
  • More cheese and biscuits
  • A beer-tasting session incorporating golden ales, bitter and honey-flavoured ales
  • More beer

I had turned up in the hope that the beer-tasting would run concurrent with the wine-tasting, and that I could restrict myself to beer. Honest. But, as you might expect, the two parts of the evening ran consecutively, and I followed the recipe summarized above. The next day I marvelled at the duration and intensity of the hangover it produced, especially as there were no spirits involved. But I had arranged my time so that I was able to sleep it off

If you’re looking to test out the boffins’ “ultimate hangover cure” you could follow the cheese, wine and beer recipe above first to guarantee yourself a brute of a hangover. It certainly worked for me.




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