A few weeks ago, at the Abergavenny food festival, I was in the audience for a talk on the subject of hangover cures held by chefs Fergus Henderson, Shaun Hill and journalist, Chris Hurst.
The cures suggested onstage weren’t a million miles away from my own hard won antidotes, gleaned from many wasted years of trial, much error and scant few conclusions. But then I was gobsmacked, some might say literally. Introduced to something entirely new in my experience, something revelatory. A potential silver bullet for all future suffering caused by a surfeit of alcohol, the cure-all that is a Dr Henderson.
As I entered the theatre, I was handed a small glass of murky, brackish, green and brown liquid, seemingly the contents of a flu sufferer’s hanky, scraped into a glass over ice. The straw protruding from it, obviously functioning as a stake through its foul heart. This revolting looking cocktail, (an unholy combination of the Italian herbal monstrosity Fernet Branca and Crème de menthe), was being touted by Fergus Henderson as the answer to any and all hangovers.
Against my better judgement, I bravely took an exploratory sip. Instantly, I was seven again, at the dinner table being force-fed boiled to death cabbage or sprouts, eyes closed and face contorted into a deathly grimace, lips curled back in the absolute epitome of disgust. But then, a funny thing happened. The shock dissipated, faded away and left behind it a curious green, brown, minted haze tinged with a bizarre almost electrical current of mental alertness. On stage, Fergus likened the feeling to a rebounding ‘ping, ping, ping’ down his chest.
Astounded, I took another sip, and another, amazed to find that I actually liked it and wanted more. The ultimate test of course would be the stupidity/bravery of self-prescribing a Dr Henderson whilst in the throes of a raging hangover. Against my better judgement, I’m seriously tempted and shall report back when I do.
If you fancy trying this wonder cure yourself, the ratio for a Dr Henderson is two parts Fernet Branca, to one part Crème de menthe, mixed together with ice.
In the meantime, my own tried and tested hangover cure is thus. If you’re sensible, as soon as you come staggering in, no doubt stinking of kebabs and Sambuca, head to the kitchen and neck a whole pint of water before bed. This one simple action could save you from enduring the whole hangover experience entirely. Obviously a glutton for punishment, I always forget to do this and wake up feeling like death, in which case I follow the next step.
The pint of water you forgot to drink before slumping into bed, combined with 2 Paracetamol is the foundation of the cure. If you’re going to be sick, obviously get this out of the way before, or all your efforts will be wasted. Next you want to lie very still, in a darkened room, softly moaning in agonised self pity. Do this for around an hour until the pills kick in and it all becomes a bit more bearable. Then you can crawl into the bathroom to brush your teeth and have a hot shower. After this, you’ll emerge feeling a hell of a lot better. But you’re not there yet. You need a steaming mug of tea, and a fried bacon and egg sandwich. The greasier the sandwich, the better it works in soaking up alcohol. I have no idea of the science behind this, best not to question it, just accept its absolute rightness with blind faith.
Follow the prescribed steps, and you will feel fantastic and ready, once again to face life and all it’s challenges.
But I should point out, this only works for the standard everyday hangover. Sometimes, and we all do it, we go a little bit bonkers. We push it just that little bit too much, stupidly convinced of our own particular invulnerability to the devil drink. The resulting hangover is nothing short of epic. In cases like this, try and drink the water, and keep down the painkillers. Forget about the shower and brushing your teeth (making it to the bathroom for anything other than copious bouts of vomiting will be beyond you). Bacon and egg sandwiches? Forget it, just the thought will plunge you into a spinning hell of misery and nausea.
Basically, if you were a racehorse, they’d be dragging you out back and putting you out of your misery with a Webley. You’ll just have to lie there, endure and wait for it to wear off.
Obviously, a hangover is a very personal thing. I’d love to hear how you deal with it.
What do you recommend as the best cure for a hangover?
Am I wrong; is there in fact a remedy for an epic ‘pray for death’ hangover?
Have you ever tried a Dr Henderson the morning after? And did it actually help?