Your head is pounding. Your skin is pale (or maybe even kind of greenish). Your hands are shaking. Your throat is on fire from all those cigarettes you chain-smoked last night. Or least the cigarettes you think you smoked last night. You're just now realizing that you don't remember much of last night. Oh god, what if you said something embarrassing to your boss? Or danced naked on a bar? And speaking of naked, where are your pants? And wait, where are you? This definitely isn't your house.
We've all been there. It's the hangover from hell, and summer is the prime time to be so afflicted. It's the season of backyard barbecues, picnics, summer concerts, and trips to the lake. Much beer, wine, and vodka will be consumed, and you'll more than likely experience your fair share of hangovers.
But if there's one thing the Flyer team knows all about, it's hangovers. And we're here to offer our expert advice on beating the brown bottle flu or the vodka virus or whatever catchy, alliterative name you choose. Here's our handy guide to the best hangover cures, foods for soaking up last night's booze, and cocktails for a little hair of the dog. — Bianca Phillips
IV Hangover Therapy
"I need to get a hangover," I tell the bartender. "It's for work."
I'm at the New Daisy Theatre's Big Star Room. It's the Daisy's 74th birthday party, and George Clinton, accompanied by the current iteration of Parliament Funkadelic, is about to take the stage. I figure there's a high probability of feeling good tonight and feeling bad tomorrow. The bartender nods and pours me a Jameson.
Any alcoholic beverage can produce a hangover when consumed immoderately, but dark distilled liquors are particularly potent. The goal of fermentation is to produce ethanol, the magical compound which produces the desired effects of mood elevation and lowered inhibitions. But thanks to one of organic chemistry's great ironies, as your liver works to clear the ethanol from your system, one of the byproducts is acetaldehyde, a compound which inflames any tissue it touches. It also has a pleasant, fruity odor and is present alongside ethanol in dark liquors such as the Irish whiskey being poured over a glass of ice in front of me.
I'm not sure how many Jamesons I have had as I dance and catch up with old friends, but my difficulty in navigating my iPhone to call Uber at the end of the night indicates that there were several more than was prudent. But it was for work.
My headache awakens me the next morning. The blood vessels dilated by the decaying ethanol are struggling to return to normal, causing migraine-like pain. I only had a small plate of nachos last night, and my stomach is in no mood to accept anything new. My mouth tastes vaguely of cat pee. I drink what little coffee I can keep down and head for Atlas Men's Health at the corner of Madison and McLean.
"The reason people get hangovers is mostly dehydration," says Anna Harnish, a physician's assistant who also works at the St. Francis ER. Alcohol is a diuretic, which is why club bathrooms smell so horrible and why you wake up the next day with cotton mouth. Generations of medical students have treated the hangover's debilitating effects by nicking a bag of saline solution from the supply closet and rehydrating intravenously. Some of those former med students decided to monitize the secret hangover cure.
"It's very popular in Vegas," Harnish says. "They have buses that go around called Hangover Heaven. But you pay a Vegas price there."
Hangover Heaven can run upwards of $200. Atlas Men's Health offers two options for Saturday morning detox: $75 gets you the basic treatment of one liter of saline solution doped with vitamin B, medications for nausea and indigestion, and ketorolac tromethamine, a strong, anti-inflammatory drug in the same chemical family as ibuprofen. For $100, you get the Eraser, which adds a proprietary vitamin cocktail to the mix.
In the interest of science, I opt for the baseline treatment. It takes about 40 minutes for the bag's contents to empty into my parched veins. The ketorolac kicker, which Harnish administers about halfway through, makes short work of my headache. By the time it's over, I'm feeling good as new. Science. It works, people.
— Chris McCoy
Hair of the Dog
Okay, you've got the hangover. One of the more ingenious remedies is that which goes by the name of "hair of the dog that bit you." In a manner somewhat akin to the principle of the vaccine, drink something alcoholic to still the agonies that come from having drunk too much.
The Medical Daily website positions itself among the skeptics. The idea of drinking more to offset the effects of a previous day's drinking binge "sounds so counterintuitive ... that's because it is; drinking more alcohol will only make your hangover worse."
The article goes on to attribute those familiar morning-after miseries essentially to "methanol toxicity," which is what happens "when we ferment and distill ethanol, which makes up most of the alcohol we consume." And we learn from an article in the U.K. periodical The Daily Mail that "[i]n high doses methanol can make people go blind or even die because the body converts it to formaldehyde."
Formaldehyde? The antique expression "getting pickled" is closer than we thought to the heart of the case.
The site recommends as a hangover remedy the consumption of "Pedialyte, long known for its use among children." Now, really, is Pedialyte that much more appealing than methanol and formaldehyde?
Much more like it are three familiar (and alcoholic) remedies freely available locally — the Bloody Mary, the mimosa, and the michelada.
Here's how the friendly folks at the bar of the Bahama Breeze in Wolfchase do it. For the Bloody Mary, two ounces of either vodka or tequila, with Bloody Mary mix, and garnished by lemon, lime wedges, and celery stalk as your taste requires. The mimosa is basically orange or pineapple juice and champagne.
At the Abuelo, across the road on Highway 64, there are three varieties of michelada: the Gato, the Tradicional, and the Roja. The last named is the most ordered. Ingredients include a salted rim, abundant ice cubes, lemon wedges, dashes of Worcestershire and/or Tabasco sauces (optional), Bloody Mary mix or plain tomato juice, and beer.
Do they work? Well, all these contain healthy juice nutrients, salt (helpful against dehydration), and a good stimulus to the bedraggled senses. Probably a safe amount of methanol. And they all beat hell out of Pedialyte. — Jackson Baker
Some hangovers are so bad that just the thought of eating makes your stomach turn. Others, though, turn you into a ravenous monster with a craving for fries. With chili on top. And cheese. Maybe some gravy. Oooh, and what about bacon?
We've sampled our way around town through our various hangovers, and we have a few suggestions for dishes guaranteed to keep your hangover at bay.
— Bianca Phillips
Loaded Fries and the Sake to Me Milkshake at Oshi
You've overindulged. But now is not the time to be a quitter. Oh no, honey, it's time to lean in. That means cheese fries. Oshi's loaded fries are doused in a creamy cheese sauce and sprinkled with scallions and bacon and are satisfying in every way. What Oshi has going for it over the other places with cheese fries is those signature boozy milkshakes. Try the Sake to Me with coconut sake, vanilla vodka, vanilla ice cream, and toasted coconut. It's something made in dreams. You don't deserve it at all, but that makes it only sweeter.
— Susan Ellis
Juices at I Love Juice Bar
That closing round of shots seemed harmless enough last night, but this morning it feels fatal. Your hands shake, your eyes ache, your stomach's on spin cycle, and it appears a litter of kittens has taken up residence on your tongue. Here's what you do: Be kind to yourself. Forego the greasy heap of food you so desperately want, and detox with a juice.
I Love Juice Bar's pretty, garnet-red We Got the Beet has beets, carrots, apples, ginger, and lemon, with the beets working to detoxify your liver and the ginger settling your stomach. The Fresh Greens has cucumber to rehydrate and spinach for vitamin C. — SE
Tacos Alambre at Picosos
When I wake up in the afternoon broken, with itchy teeth, a pounding headache, and the acrid smell of a man who had too good a time the night before, there's really only one dining option that can fix me. I'll soon be in my car, squinting behind dark sunglasses, and motoring down Summer, on my way to Picosos for a steaming platter of meaty comfort called "alambre."
Alambres are a little bit like Mexico City's answer to the Philly cheese steak sandwich, only way more decadent. Small chunks of beef, pork, or chicken — or a combination thereof — are grilled with onion, crispy bacon, and bell pepper, then smothered in cheese, and served on a platter next to a ridiculously tall, lumberjack stack of tortillas. Picosos' warm, butter-yellow tortillas are hearty, more durable than most, and a key part of this surefire remedy for the brown bottle flu. — Chris Davis
The Waffold at Café Eclectic Highland
Why is it that breakfast foods are the best for hangovers? We're not sure, but it is something to ponder while taking in Café Eclectic's massive Waffold. Sweet Baby Jesus, this is a thing of beauty! A plate-sized golden waffle hugging a whole omelet of eggs that holds within its folds melted provolone cheese and bacon. To slather or not to slather with syrup is your call. And while it may not cure what ails you, the Waffold does make a mighty nice distraction. — SE
Fried Tacos at Maciel's
Stuffing your face full of tacos is the answer to many of life's problems. Hungry? Depressed? Bored? Hungover? See how that works? And we fully endorse stuffing your face full of Maciel's tacos. (In truth, plenty of their dishes would do for a hangover cure; we're looking at you, huevo torta.) You get your choice of papa (potato), frijole fritos (refried beans), or pollo (chicken), or you can get one of each. This plate has everything you need: crunchy, cheesy, salty, creamy. Served with rice and refried beans. — SE
Totchos at Pink Diva Cupcakery
You might think nachos sound like a good cure for the old Irish flu. And they'll do in a pinch. But you know what's better than nachos? Totchos, that's what. Tater. Tot. Nachos. At Pink Diva, a vegan cupcake bakery and lunch café, the crispy, deep-fried tater puffs come covered in black beans, brown rice, a dairy-free cheese sauce, black olives, onions, salsa, and vegan sour cream. They're practically guaranteed to soak up all that vodka oozing from your pores. — BP
Memphis Slam at Imagine Vegan Café
This ain't no Denny's Grand Slam. At Imagine, the signature breakfast mess pile is a meat-free plate of fluffy biscuits topped with tofu scramble (like a vegan version of scrambled eggs), country gravy, dairy-free cheddar sauce, and veggie sausage. That dish alone will cure what ails you, but for those Sunday mornings when you're still a little drunk from the night before, I recommend ordering the Memphis Slam "Bianca-style," with a side of two crispy deep-fried hash brown patties. Chunk those on top and cover the whole plate in sriracha. — BPThe Sampler at Bryant's Breakfast
Bacon. Gravy. Biscuits. Forget a fancified brunch. To cure what ails you after a night of imbibing a few too many adult beverages, order the Sampler from Bryant's. It's way too much food for one person (eggs, sausage, grits, potato patty, and pork and dough), but when you've got a hangover hankering, this heavenly breakfast plate satisfies. — Shara Clark
Hash Browns at CK's
They're not scattered, covered, diced, peppered, or chunked, but the hash browns at CK's certainly hit the spot at 3 a.m. These shredded browns are crispy on the outside, greasy on the inside, and best enjoyed with a side of piping hot, black coffee. Technically, it's best to enjoy these BEFORE going to sleep to prevent an impending hangover from being the worst ever. Pro tip: Flyer photographer Justin Fox Burks recommends the "hash brown sandwich," an off-menu concoction that involves tucking hash browns between two slices of toast. — BP
Fried Rice at Yum's on Jackson
Yum's — the chain of neon-lit, Chinese food/sandwich shop/fast-food joints — are all over the city. But I'm partial to the Yum's on Jackson and Hollywood for one reason — the portions of fried rice are massive! A small fried rice (less than $5) fills a Styrofoam takeout container to the brim, and it's most certainly enough for two meals (or for one really hungry hangover). I prefer the vegetable fried rice, but ham, chicken, and shrimp fried rice are also available. — BPTwo Timer at Ubee's
For whatever reason — science, I think — greasy foods top the hangover craving list. When something light and healthy won't suffice (and, really, it just won't), go for the Two Timer, a double-patty, double cheeseburger cooked in Ubee's aged, seasoned grease. They're open 'til 3 a.m. and they deliver, so, technically, you could be proactive and order this before bed. Will eating a burger while drunk prevent a hangover? It's worth a try. — SC
Ramen at Crazy Noodle
Ramen noodles got me through college, and now they're getting me through my failed attempt at adulthood. On those afternoons when I wake up with a pounding head, an insatiable appetite, and the occasional wave of nausea, only ramen can truly cure me. It may surprise you that the best ramen (a traditional Japanese dish) in town is served at a Korean joint. But Crazy Noodle's ramen game is on point. Order it with tofu, mandu (vegetable dumplings), curry chicken, seafood, even cheddar cheese. Add extra spice if you dare. — BP
Bánh Xèo at Pho Saigon
This traditional Vietnamese rice flour and coconut milk crepe looks like a gigantic, greasy omelet. But it's totally egg-free, and the exterior is surprisingly crisp. Order off the menu, and it comes stuffed with shrimp. But I make a special request to swap out the shrimp for deep-fried cubes of tofu. The dish is delightfully oily, which is why my friends and I have a New Year's Day tradition of ordering Pho Saigon's bánh xèo to heal our first hangovers of the year. There's a crisp carrot-daikon slaw on the side that helps cut the grease and makes you feel like you're doing something nice for yourself.
Bar-B-Que Pizza at Garibaldi's
If you're in the U of M area, you don't even have to change out of your PJs for this one. They'll bring the goods to you. And what better way to soak up yesterday's booze than a pizza feast? A good go-to is the Bar-B-Que Pizza, a cheesy, perfectly crispy crust topped with generous portions of smoked pulled pork. Throw in Miss Angie's Italian Masterpiece (a salad piled high with veggies) for good measure. — SC
Hungover? I'm Lovin' It!
On the exceedingly rare occasions when I wake and realize I was overserved the night before, I know exactly what I need to do: drive to the nearest place that serves a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. Speed is of the essence. I don't want to have to park and walk and sit down and look at a menu and be waited on by a chirpy server. I want to sit in my car listening to NPR's Saturday shows while berating myself for being an idiot who's way too old to be abusing his body like this. (There's a reason my old XTerra has stains on the passenger seat.)
True confession: I almost always go to McDonald's. Their sandwich is perfection: a circle of scrambled eggs (or egg product?) topped with American cheese and a couple strips of bacon, all nestled on a gummy-soft biscuit. It's the greatest alcohol absorber of all time. Order it with a cup of too-hot-to-drink black coffee, orange juice, and a preshaped oval of "hash browns." Within minutes of finishing this magical mix of salt and meat and sugar and caffeine, you will feel much better. Trust me on this.
— Bruce VanWyngarden