Whether they call it cruda, resaca, guayabos, or chuchaqui, pretty much everyone agrees that hangovers suck.
The headaches, dizzying nausea, and just general shittiness that result from imbibing a tad too much are the only downside to the alcohol-driven holiday parties we frequent this time of year. So, to offset this dreaded but inevitable part of the holiday season, we present you with our very own collection of hangover remedies to help you deal with the morning(s) after and ring in the New Year unscathed.
We reached out to a bunch of heavy drinkers (and just generally informed folks) to find out how they deal with the pain. The result? A wide range of sometimes surprising remedies passed on from tíos y tías, wise (and wild) abuelitas, concerned older siblings, and disapproving parents, among others.
We’ve broken them down into OVER THE COUNTER, FOOD, LIQUIDS, HAIR OF THE DOG (más alcohol!), and THE TRULY WACKY. Read on for so many cures (and preventions) that you won’t even think twice about chugging that champagne, and downing tequila after tequila after whiskey after tequila come December 31st.
OJO (Disclaimer): we haven’t tried these all out ourselves, but—unless otherwise noted—those who shared their secrets swear by them. So proceed at your own risk, but it can’t hurt, right?
OVER THE COUNTER
Aspirin’s a no-brainer, but it doesn’t always do the trick. Doctors, scientists and wannabes have spent a good deal of time working on a cure for the dreaded hangover. It seems like Brazil, where cachaça flows freely and partying is a national pastime, has come the closest, with a “miraculous anti-hangover medicine” called Engove. Juan Data says, “For many years, tourists used to smuggle [Engove] back to Argentina. Then in the late 90s they came out with an Argentine version of it called Falgós. Its slogan was a la resaca te la re-saca (d’uh!), but it was never too popular.”
Other argentinos swear by Alikal, an alka seltzer/aspirin combination that apparently does the trick (check out one of their ads here). Our source insists Alikal is most effective when accompanied by a joint, but we wouldn’t know…
Ecuadorians, on the other hand, pop Finalin, “que al chuchaqui le pone fin.”
Now, none of these products are easily available in the US, but never fear, Dominicans in Long Island have been producing and selling La Rapidita for almost 20 years now. A hit across New York City (available at bodegas, as well as in health food stores in more gentrified neighborhoods), it is also hugely popular in the DR and Puerto Rico. These yellow pills (“a mixture of B vitamins and other substances”) can also be purchased online and promise effects within 10 minutes. Bonus: they also cure migraines!
Colombian hangover connoisseur Ari Kuschnir swears by Charcoal, “a magical natural pill” available at health food stores. He explains, “the best way is to take two before you start [drinking] and two or three at the end of the night. There’s no denying it works… I’m not a heavy drinker, yet I still get hangovers, so I take my charcoal religiously.” He’s a fan of Chaser as well.
Another natural remedy is Boldo, an herb native to Chile that is popular among Brazilians, Paraguayans, and other South Americans. It works on the liver and stomach, and when taken daily is said to improve the complexion and get rid of any traces of fatigue. Boldo is most effective in its purest form (fresh leaves), but is easiest to come by in the States in teabags, as an herbal extract or dry leaves. Mix with water, and hope for the best!
You most likely won’t be in any state to attempt the following recipes on your own, but get thee to a Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian, or Ecuadorian restaurant asap and order away!
Soup was a simple but extremely popular favorite amongst our “experts”. Mexicans swear by menudo or pozole, and Aldo Sanchez Ramirez told us about the caldo tlalpeño, a soup from the Tlalpan section of Mexico City that his journalist/poet uncle Renato Leduc “discovered” at a local cantina. It’s basically a vegetable and chicken soup with rice and chipotle—the combination of spiciness and heat is what does the trick. (This year, in New York, La Palapa restaurant is serving pozole and menudo all January to help you recover, beginning the 1st.)
Colombian sancocho before going to bed is said to greatly reduce the likelihood of a hangover, and is often served at the end of weddings there. Too late for preventative sancocho? Another Colombian favorite for “guayabos” is a caldo de papa con costilla with lots of cilantro (potato soup with ribs and cilantro), according to Yuzzy Acosta.
Dubbed “levantamuertos” and “vuelve a la vida,” ceviche’s rejuvenating qualities are something Peruvians, Ecuadorians, and Mexicans all can agree on (para variar!). Now, which type of ceviche is the best is a different matter. Some folks insist the “leche de tigre” (the “juice” in Peruvian ceviche, made from lime, garlic, ají, and pisco or wine–see HAIR OF THE DOG section) is the true elixir, while our Ecuadorian friends cite ceviche de concha as the guaranteed “chuchaqui” eliminator.
But be forewarned: in addition to being a hangover remedy, ceviche is also an aphrodisiac, but we’re never ones to complain about being lucid and horny.
Hard-partying peruano Renzo Ortega also recommended half a pollo a la brasa with French fries (grease!) accompanied by an Inka Kola, while Tanya Bravo’s Tia Maruja from Palma de Mallorca in Spain keeps it simple with a tuna sandwich and beer. My mom insists chilaquiles are the way to go (spicy + greasy + plenty of carbs to soak up the booze), while Pablo Goldbarg from Argentina offers a truly simple (and economic) solution: “comer tostadas algo quemadas!” (slightly burnt toast). Yummmm!
Sometimes you’re feeling so gross that the thought of even eating anything is repulsive. The following remedies simply require swallowing, no chewing necessary. Gatorade, Pedialite, and Vitamin Water are all known to work wonders (yay, electrolytes!), but if you can’t even leave the house to head to the store, try:
Water, tea, or black coffee with lemon. Jesus Varela’s uncles in Chihuahua swear by the lemon coffee, and “they would make a point to mention that you must use the good yellow limones from El Norte, and not the crappy green ones found in Mexico…”
Warm milk. Who knew this comforting childhood treat would serve you later on in life? A few Argentinean buddies of ours recommended two glasses before going to bed after a night of drinking.
Olive oil. This was by far the most popular recommendation in our survey, perhaps because it’s actually a prevention technique, rather than a remedy. Boozers from all over said downing a shot or two tablespoons of olive oil (one person specified extra virgin works best) before the drinking begins, as it helps coat the stomach. Jorge Ignacio Torres writes, “Segun mis tias es la neta. Se toman el remedio antes de pegarle duro al mezcal.” (“According to my aunts it’s the shit. They take it before hitting the mezcal.”)
And of course, the most basic liquid of all: lots and lots of water. Rehydration is key, kids!
HAIR OF THE DOG
Now for a more potent liquid… For better or worse, an overwhelming number of alcoholics drinkers believe that the only hangover remedy is to drink more. A popular Brazilian saying is evite a resaca: mantenhase bebado (“avoid a hangover: stay drunk”). Bloody Marys and Mimosas at brunch? Exactly…
The term “hair of the dog that bit you” refers to the belief that you need to drink exactly what you had the night before to rid yourself of its effects. The South American Gentleman’s Companion (!) from 1951 suggests that “the old Hair-o’-the-Dog principle is just about the only thing that will rebuild a man who has not time or patience to let nature’s cure of rest, quiet and time get-in its licks.” You may want to test out some of the following concoctions…
No stranger to vice, Hunter S. Thompson relied on Italian liqueur Fernet-Branca to rid him of his hangovers. Enormously popular in Argentina (where it is considered the national beverage) and San Francisco (!), the over 40 herbs and spices in Fernet also treat menstrual cramps, baby colic (!!), and cholera (!!!). A shot in the morning should do the trick.
La Superior restaurant owner and veteran bartender Felipe Mendez concocted a Mexican hangover cocktail for the New York Times a couple years ago called “La Piedra” that incorporated Fernet-Branca Menta, tequila, anisette, and pomegranate seeds. If you can tolerate the smell (and taste) of the alcohol, consider yourself golden.
Felipe also recommended spiking your breakfast cereal with whiskey. Something about the combination of Cornflakes, milk, and whiskey is supposed to make you all better.
You think that’s weird? Linda Lopez sent over her cousin’s-friend’s-grandmother’s (got that?) special recipe. It seems like order of operations is important here, so pay attention: “Put ice cubes in a cup and sprinkle some salt on cubes and squeeze lemons onto the ice cubes and then sprinkle some black pepper on top. Put a shot of tequila on top of the ice and then add 1 full beer and half a cup of Clamato juice and tapatio sauce and stir, and you feel will better.” We’re not so sure… Sounds kind of like a Michelada–another tried and true Mexican remedio pa’ la cruda–on crack to us.
And for the truly bizarre, we return to the trusty South American Gentleman’s Companion, which cites a recipe for the “Buenos Aires ‘Man-of-the-Port’ Reviver”: “Take 1 10-ouncer can of Campbell’s Consomme or Beef Bouillon, add 2-ounces of good French brandy. Stir and put in deep-freeze or freezer compartment of your refrigerator. Leave it till it’s a chilled and sippable liquid; or chilled until it almost jells, and eat it with a spoon.” No thanks.
But is all this mixing really necessary? Straight up Coronas are a popular solution (chased with lemon and spice, or not), while Peruvians like their beer with a side of leche de tigre (see FOOD section). A no-frills argentino recommends a true breakfast of champions: warm beer on an empty stomach. Salud!
THE TRULY WACKY
We had to share the following remedies if only for a good laugh. But we wouldn’t discount them entirely, because if you’re in a really bad spot, and none of the above works, you may have to result to one of the following “cures”.
In parts of Mexico, rumor has it that holding a shot of tequila on your bellybutton will cure a hangover. (Apparently the tequila is supposed to seep through your bellybutton and into your body to cure you. Riiiight.)
When in high school, and still somewhat green when it came to the damaging effects of alcohol, a friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, was forced (by another friend’s very outgoing and insistent Puerto Rican mother) to rub a wedge of lime in his armpits so that he’d recover in time to perform in a matinee performance of Romeo and Juliet. Needless to say, the lime didn’t do much, but our friend pulled it together in time for the play.
Speaking of insistent older women, there’s a certain doña in La Habana, Cuba, by the name of Daisy, who insisted that back in her wild partying days she would put ice on her genitals to ensure she’d wake up hangover-less the next morning. After acting out this little process, Daisy convinced some skeptical but desperate study abroad students to apply this practice to a dear friend of theirs who was out cold and a clear candidate for a killer resaca… Needless to say, Frank woke up the next morning with a wet crotch, a cold, and, yes, a severe hangover.
Michelle Perez, from Miami, was familiar with this apparent remedy, and clarifies, “The thing with ice on the crotch is more for reducing your drunk level. Not really for hangovers–it’s more for sobering up. Nothing like something cold to wake you right up!” Aaah, if only Daisy had been more explicit.
And we leave you with that. Drink (and cure your crudas) responsibly, and feel free to share your remedies and results with us in the comments section.