10 Ways to Prevent a Hangover
Pick up some tips on lessening the power of a hangover from cocktail enthusiasts and medical experts.
If you are going to attend a marathon cocktail convention in New Orleans and spend your time tasting up to 10 drinks and spirits every day, and savor imbibing at some of the most iconic bars and restaurants in America, you’d better have a game plan.
During the four blissful, semi-tipsy days I spent at the annual Tales of the Cocktail convention based out of the gorgeous Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, my goal, in addition to discovering my next favorite cocktail and talking to fascinating distillers, bartenders, historians and other journalists, was avoiding a hangover.
I am proud to say that beyond a general achiness the morning after my first full day of tastings that quickly dissipated, I remained largely hangover-free. So whether you are headed to your own cocktail convention, wine country, a music festival or some other boozy event, I hope these tips for avoiding a hangover will help. Here’s how I did it.
1: Hydration Is Key
Alcohol is a diuretic and saps the body of water, leaving you dehydrated. Some recommend drinking one glass of water for each cocktail you consume and making sure you have one last glass of water before going to sleep. I had a bottle of water in my hand at all times and nursed that H2O like a thirsty newborn baby. I drank water at every meal, I drank water the second I woke up, I drank water before I went to bed. I drank water in the middle of the night during the inevitable trips to the loo. HGTV contributor Deanne Revel has her own tip for staying hydrated, whether you are at a cocktail convention or a music festival: “I drink at least a quart of coconut juice for the electrolytes before going to bed. I wake up fresh and ready to dance!”
2: Make Sure You Eat. A Lot
Noshing on fatty and high fiber foods before drinking slows the absorption of alcohol in the body. And so, though I normally skip breakfast, I learned after waking up slightly achy that first morning after my arrival at Tales of the Cocktail that this is not wise. You will want a solid, preferably hot breakfast with some protein and carbohydrates to get you through. Seminars at Tales begin as early as 10 a.m. and the sampling begins early, too. I attended a fantastic “Getting Lit at the Hotel Monteleone” lecture by Marine Corps lawyer-by-day and cocktail historian and author by avocation Philip Greene on the famous writers who have tippled at the Carousel Bar, including Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway. During his highly instructive seminar (fun fact: Greene’s ancestor invented Peychaud’s Bitters), we sampled a Sazerac, Vieux Carre and Hemingway daiquiri. Favorite literary quote of the morning from William Faulkner: “Civilization begins with distillation.” In addition to the place where any number of classic cocktails were invented, from the Sazerac to the French 75, lucky for me, New Orleans is a fantastic food town so there was a lot of incentive to strap on my feedbag at the fabulous James Beard award-winning Peche, where I supped and sipped with Highspire head Austin Hope; Arnaud’s; Galatoire’s, the atmospheric Cane & Table and another well-deserved James Beard winner, Shaya, to sop up all those cocktails.
STOP 2: Fountain Square
At the heart of downtown is Fountain Square, a busy city square surrounded by shops, restaurants and offices. Pause here to admire the 19th-century Tyler Davidson Fountain by sculptor August von Kreling. The Square is also a community gathering space with public events happening many days a week. Park the bike and you’ll find the Contemporary Arts Center and Carew Tower mere strolls away. VIEW: Tyler Davidson Fountain, food fairs or happenings in the Square VISIT: Contemporary Arts Center, Carew Tower NEXT STOP: Washington Park
3: Stay Active and Moving
Don't stay sedentary on that bar stool. Exercise, even city walking, is a great way to get the blood pumping and feel refreshed rather than sluggish and bloated.
4: Sip Your Drink, Don't Slam or Guzzle
When you attend a cocktail convention, often just a taste will do it. Seminar cocktails at Tales of the Cocktail are generally served in a small glass about the size of two shot glasses. I quickly learned I did not need to drink the whole thing, but just have a few sips to get the essence of the cocktail. At a delicious Diplomatico rum lunch at Cane & Table, where three fantastic rums were sampled (Tales epiphany: I love rum!), each one better than the last, I savored the flavors of a few sips rather than succumbing to my instinct to finish each one. This rule held true in every case but one: a seminar on hotel bars, which served the single most delicious piña colada with toasted coconut I have ever tasted, and I am not even a piña colada fan.
5: Sleep On It
One of the unique pleasures of Tales of the Cocktail is meeting and comparing notes with learned cocktail connoisseurs like Tales veteran and author Fred Minnick (Whiskey Women, Bourbon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of an American Whisky) who recommends shut-eye to restore mind and spirit and prepare yourself for a fresh day of cocktail ingestion. Booking time at a great hotel like the Hotel Monteleone, with its old-school charm, definitely helps. But I also enjoyed the short walk to the Quarter and the plush, restful surroundings at both the Moxy and the Q+C Hotel. Both offered stylish, comfortable quarters, easy access to the buzzy French Quarter and the kind of well-outfitted rooms that make for a good night's sleep. “You want to get at least eight hours of sleep a night before, during and after Tales,” advises Minnick. While sleep won't prevent a hangover, it can lessen the irritability associated with one and can help your body recover from the ordeal you've just put it through.
6: Select Your Drink of Choice Wisely
Science has shown that the type of alcohol you drink makes a big difference in the impact of your hangover. The reason? A substance called congeners, natural chemicals that are formed in the fermentation process and which irritate blood vessels and tissues in the brain, according to Britain's National Health Service. Certain spirits are far higher in congeners including whiskey, bourbon, cognac and tequila. Drinking these spirits is said to increase the frequency and intensity of hangovers. If you switch to spirits like vodka, gin and rum, which have low or no congeners, your hangover may be lessened.
Black Seed Oil is a Powerful Antioxidant
Foods with antioxidant qualities can help our bodies prevent and fight cancer, and black seed oil is a rather potent one, according to Dr. Jerry. Among other compounds with various health benefits, black seed oil contains thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone. A 2008 study published in the journal Experimental Oncology concluded that these two compounds have tumor-fighting capabilities.
Shutterstock / ijp2726
7: Try Taking Supplements
In addition to causing dehydration, alcohol leeches your body of key nutrients. Some studies show that taking vitamin C and a vitamin B complex, magnesium and zinc can help lessen the impact of a hangover by restoring your body's supply of these essential nutrients and by helping clear alcohol from the blood. Some also swear by taking Emergen-C to help give your body a nutritional boost before a night of heavy drinking or Pedialyte before bed to replenish fluids and nutrients.
8: Pace Yourself
Your body needs one hour to metabolize one drink. So make sure you are not drinking more than one drink per hour, experts say. The CDC recommends, as a general guide, women should not exceed more than one drink in an evening and men should not exceed two drinks in an evening to reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm.
9: Stay Away From Sugar
Sugar leads to inflammation, and inflammation creates worse hangovers, so it is best to stick to healthier foods in your drinking pre-game. Studies have found that foods rich in zinc and nicotinic acid might dimish the severity of a hangover. Foods high in nicotinic acid include meat, fish and poultry, avocado, peanuts, whole grains and mushrooms. Foods high in zinc include meat, shellfish like oysters, and legumes like lentils and beans.
10: Avoid Bubbles
Bubble baths, yes. But bubbles in your glass can be a problem if you are looking to avoid a hangover. Carbonation in champagne or sparkling wine and in tonic water and other mixers can speed the absorption of alcohol by the body.