“Hair of the dog” — maybe you’ve heard the term? It’s especially prevalent this time of year. They are drinks intended as hangover cures, the idea being that a little alcohol will help your body adapt to the situation caused by too much alcohol.
Maybe you’ve used the term yourself, but do you know where the term came from?
The notion of the hair of the dog was originally a folk cure for rabies. The idea was to place a hair from the infected dog in the bite wound inflicted by that dog. The belief was that “like” would cancel out “like,” much like modern homeopathy, and if you scoff at that notion, you might just want to look up what biodynamics means in relation to wine — moon phases and cow horns are involved.
However, the hair of the dog didn’t work for rabies. In fact, rabies was nearly always fatal for both the animal and the bitten, at least until 1885. That’s when Louis Pasteur (inventor of pasteurization) and Émile Roux (inventor of the diphtheria vaccine) finally developed an effective vaccine for rabies. Ironically, the cure was devised by using a bit of rabies to cure the rabies. “Like” did indeed cancel out “like.”
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Unfortunately, when it comes to veisalgia — the technical medical term for a “hangover” (combining the Greek word for pain with the Norwegian word for “uneasiness following debauchery”) — folk cures don’t actually work, at least not yet. But that doesn’t stop people from coming up with them. Maybe we just need more cow horn?
Whatever the case, I’ve taken the liberty of assembling some recipes for the best known so-called “hangover cure” drinks. And they have all been localized for your consumption.
Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly Podcast on iTunes and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him at jeffburkhart.net and contact him at jeffbarflyIJ@outlook.com
Corpse Reviver No. 2
1½ ounces Alamere Spirits London Dry gin
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
¾ ounce good-quality triple sec (Cointreau, Combier, Citronage)
¼ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce Barber Lee Spirits absinthe blanche
1 lime zest
Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Float absinthe on top and garnish with the lime zest.
Corpse Reviver No. 2 has been touted as a hangover cure.
Note: One might think a Zombie cocktail and a Corpse Reviver are related because the ideas are so similar. They are not. The Zombie, a multiple rum (including high proof) concoction is made to get you into the condition. The other, the Corpse Reviver, was designed to get you out of it. One works, the other doesn’t. As a side note, when these drinks were invented no one called this drink a No. 2. That came later, from being listed as the second version of this drink in cocktail guides. Funny that now, no one ever orders a No. 1.
Gin Mary (Red Snapper)
1½ ounces Gray Whale Gin
6 ounces organic tomato juice
¼ ounce Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 pinch celery seed
Dash of ground cumin
1 lemon wedge
1 dill pickle spear
Combine first eight ingredients in a mixing glass without ice. Stir to combine. Gently add ice to fill. Squeeze lemon on top and garnish with the pickle spear.
Note: The vodka-based Bloody Mary came first, but the Gin Mary (or Red Snapper) is so much more interesting. We use organic juice because it tastes better, not because it is better for you. I mean, this drink has gin in it, so really, who are we kidding?
12 ounces Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. La Morena dark Mexican lager
2 ounces chilled organic tomato juice
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco
1 dash Thai fish sauce
1 pinch fresh ground pepper
1 lemon wedge
King Floyd’s Black Lava Salt for rimming
Wet beer glass rim with lemon wedge and dip in salt. Shake off excess. Add tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, fish sauce and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Using a small ladle, or a spoon (right side up), slowly layer beer on top by pouring into the “belly” (not the back) of the ladle or spoon and raising it as the liquid rises, making sure to go slowly and create a definitive line between the beer and the juice.
Note: If you don’t feel like making the juice blend, Clamato juice is an excellent substitution. Neither really have a “fish” flavor, but both provide the necessary umami.
Hair of the Dog
1½ ounces Moylan’s Distilling single malt American whisky
2 ounces heavy cream (or non-dairy cream substitute)
½ ounce cinnamon honey
½ ounce hot water
Fresh ground nutmeg
Split vanilla bean
Combine honey and hot water in a tempered mixing glass and allow honey to dissolve. Add ice and then whiskey and cream. Shake gently to combine and then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the split vanilla bean and fresh ground nutmeg.
Note: Originally made with Scotch, this drink might be better with the American whiskey. As for its restorative properties, well, whatever we need to tell ourselves.