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Hair of the Dog

photo courtesy of http://www.neworleans.com

If there’s two things the English speaking world does well, it’s cocktails and colloquial expressions. You know, “out of sight, out of mind,” “beggars can’t be choosers,” and “all is well that ends well.” But did you know that these three (and dozens of other) expressions can be attributed to one man? In 1546, the great English writer and playwright, John Heywood, published “Proverbs,” which contained a plethora of similar aphorisms, some disseminated from historical lore, some original. One of the many to last, and the one most apropos to our discussion, is “Hair of the Dog.”

As best as I can determine, it was a common medicinal practice in medieval times to literally apply the cut hair of a dog that bit you to the wound caused by said dog, apparently, to aid in the healing process. Hard to imagine why this is no longer a common remedy…. What’s easier to imagine is why Heywood was quick to apply this arcane treatment to a more readily accessible issue: hangovers.

Whatever the medical reason for a hangover might be, it is widely believed that a little “hair of the dog that bit you”, (i.e. more booze), is a valid cure. The most popular opinion appears to be that more of the poison staves off the symptoms of withdrawl, but from a bartender’s point of view this is a bit too academic and not the least bit fun. I like to think a couple morning cocktails can really get the day going! After all, isn’t a Bloody Mary or a bottomless Mimosa the first thing you think of when you sit down to brunch?

The fact remains, we take water for granted in modern society. It wasn’t until the onset of modern technology that water became even safe to drink, let alone plentiful. After all, it’s alcohol that kills bacteria, and drinking plain water was dangerous. For the majority of human history, we drank booze in some form or another, not just to get tipsy, but to stay alive! In the end, the best cure for hangover is probably not to drink in the first place, but if you should find yourself waking up with a throbbing head and a sour stomach, consider these remedies:

 

The Bloody Mary may be perhaps the most famous of all. Variations abound, and no two Bloodies are the same. Its something of a competition behind the stick to craft the world’s best Bloody Mary, so this is something of a starter recipe, to which many other ingredients can later be added:

The Bloody Mary

2oz Vodka (we use Gin at the restaurant, and I prefer it)

4oz tomato juice

.25oz worchester sauce

.25oz lemon juice

2 shakes of cracked black pepper

2 shakes of celery salt

1 pinch of horseradish

Build ingredients over ice then roll back and forth a couple times from glass to glass to incorporate.. Garnish with celery, cucumber, or lemon wedge.

 

The category of drinks called “Corpse Revivers” has barely withstood the test of time. Only two solid recipes have survived to this day from a category of morning-after drinks meant to revive the corpse from the effects of drinking the night before, and only one of them is truely delicious. This recipe can be found in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, but keep in mind the humorous warning: “Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

Corpse Reviver #2 (adapted from The Savoy Cocktail Book)

1oz Gin

1oz Cocchi Americano

1oz Cointreau

1oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and double strain into a cocktail coupe that has been rinsed with Absinthe. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Ernest Hemingway was many things, a writer, a poet, a traveler. But it may be his drinking that appeals to some of us the most. Credited with dozens of original cocktail recipes, Hemingway was a man who liked his booze. This simple twist on a champagne cocktail was first published in the 1935 cocktail book SO RED THE NOSE, OR BREATH IN THE AFTERNOON. Use high quality absinthe, something from Jade liquors, more than 110 proof. I shake the absinthe with lemon and sugar (a la French 75 cocktail) and then top with good dry brut Champagne, or at the very least, Cava. Don’t use Prosecco, please. .

Death in the Afternoon (adapted)

1.5oz absinthe

.5oz lemon

.5oz simple syrup

Shake ingredients with ice and then stain into a champagne glass. Top with the best champagne you can get and garnish with a lemon peel.

 

The original recipe, just for kicks:

“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

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