Bar Beat: Hangover helpers

If you drink, you’ve probably had a hangover one at some point. Even cautious and health-minded bar-goers will occasionally end up groggy and disheveled the next morning, feeling entirely out of place in the sunlit world.

Everyone seems to have a different antidote for those woeful morning-afters, ranging from the simple to ornate. In addition to water and more water, personal cures include grilled asparagus, greasy-spoon-diner food and bread and olive oil before drinking (an old family remedy).

Then of course, there’s the hair of the dog: the legend that just a little more booze will help you through a hangover. The name comes from a Scottish folk remedy (the hair of the dog that bit you) for animal bites.

Locals have their own ideas.

“Two Excedrin Migraine and a nap,” Cory Crownover said of her solution while sipping a drink on the patio at The Rankin Vault.

Finishing a beer at The Frog Bar, Mark Bowers had a more herbal suggestion. “Oregon grape: It’s bitter and stimulates the liver,” he said. “Of course, a lot of the best ways to prevent a hangover are things you do before: drinking water, eating a decent meal before you go out drinking.”

There’s some truth to hair of the dog, Bowers added. “Just downing a Guinness after you wake up—you feel a lot better.”

So what do the professionals say?

“The simplest cure to a hangover is water and time,” said Dr. Amy Lanou of UNCA’s Health and Wellness Department. “A lot of the headache people feel is from dehydration. As far as the stomach problems go, eating some food will help deal with the alkalydes, with the toxin side of things. But there’s no particular type of food that has special powers.”

Lanou also encouraged people to keep their liver healthy by maintaining a good diet and alternating their beer, wine and cocktails with water, cautioning that hangovers are made worse because “a lot of people don’t get enough water during the day anyway.”

As for hair of the dog, “Well, you’ll feel better for a little while, but that’s just putting the hangover off,” Lanou says.

Despite the sound voice of medical science, legendary quick fixes abound. Consider the (in)famous concoction known as a Prairie Oyster, made famous in pop culture by P.G. Wodehouse, Cowboy Bebop and Cabaret. It’s a combination of raw egg, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, hot sauce and whatever else you happen to have lying around the kitchen. Hair of the dog believers put it all on top of a shot of vodka.

Granted, it’s hard to find anyone who actually drinks the damn thing. For good reason, too. It’s a revolting mix that slides down the throat like a spice-tinged slug.

And its restorative powers? “I’m going to stick my neck out on a limb here: That’s a legend,” Lanou said after a long laugh.

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