Hair of the Dog: Hangover Cocktails Are Enjoying A Revitalization

Adelaide's "June-uary Sunrise"
Urban cocktail culture is giving hangover cocktails new life.

The expression “hair of the dog” comes from an old folk remedy for dog bites. A bit of hair from the dog that bit you is supposed to guard against rabies, or infection, or something like that anyhow.

Nowadays, it pretty much exclusively refers to the most surefire, if perhaps the least advisable way to kill a hangover: more booze.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a group of cocktails known as hair of the dog, pick me up, or reviver cocktails were popular. The best known of which is the Corpse Reviver.

Formulated to deliver the vitality needed to carouse and socialize all over again, their popularity was dampened by Prohibition in the US, and increasing knowledge about the health dangers of heavy alcohol consumption. Out of fashion and nearly extinct, only the Bloody Mary and the Caesar remained.

Today, urban cocktail culture is giving hangover cocktails new life.

Successful hair of the dog cocktails have certain traits in common. Some kind of protein, often eggs or oysters included raw, though other seafood pops up as well. A vegetable or fruit juice providing vitamins and antioxidants, generally, but not confined to citrus or tomato.

Caffeine figures in many, although an alternate school of thought avoids it completely for fear of its diuretic action sucking more water from an already dehydrated body. More recently developed pick-me-ups also include electrolytes and superfoods like spirulina powder.

Beyond that, hangover cocktails come in as many forms as hangovers do. Some cultures add fermented sauces to help restore the booze-ravaged gut’s microbiome (friendly intestinal bacteria that help digestion). Others like pickle brine or vinegar.

Modern contributions range from the somewhat dubious Gator Dew, a mix of Mountain Dew for caffeine, Gatorade Lemonade for electrolytes, and vodka, to the hilarious Hellfire Cocktail: an alcoholic reworking which adds dark rum to the celebrated Master Cleanse detox drink of lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup.

St. John’s bartenders on their restaurant’s hangover cocktails

So what do the professional hangover healers think? St. John’s bartenders have their own ideas about which drinks on their bars menus do the trick.

  • Marquita Walsh of Exile at Jag suggests the Whiskey River, containing egg white and citrus as curative agents.
  • Jaclyn Hynes of Adelaide Oyster House votes for the June-uary Sunrise, as the ginger it contains helps ease nausea.
  • Brittany Flood of Bernard Stanleys likes the classics, choosing a mimosa or a gin gimlet, both calling on the restorative powers of juice and booze.
  • Ken Pittman, owner and head chef of Seto, seeks flavour. A spicy Caesar, or the Young and Hungry, a vibrant mix of Chartreuse, tequila , Aperol, and lime, “because I want something that is bright on the palette, and high in alcohol to kick me into gear!”

Clearly Ken understands this category of cocktail, and besides the Young and Hungry, one can also find a Corpse Reviver at Seto.

Not into cocktails? Zach Hall of the Quidi Vidi Brewing Tap Room suggests two roads. Either a smooth, light-on-the-stomach Iceberg beer, or a Calm Tom double IPA for quicker relief.

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