November 30, 2023

Hair o’ the Dog

Hangover advice from locals
By Clark Miller | Dec. 30, 2017


It’s New Year’s Day. Remember last night? You single-handily emptied your neighborhood bar of Scotch, gin, or that high school favorite, peach schnaps.

You’ve awakened, possibly in some random apartment, head exploding, eyes welded shut, with rumblings from a dinner that wants to make a return trip.

What to do?

Advice You Hate
Of course, if you hate hangovers, don’t drink at all. Good advice. Smug, but solid. Kind of like the tip to  wait until you’re married. It could but work. But it won’t.

Then there’s this kind of in-between approach: always eat while you’re drinking. It’s called laying down a foundation. It could backfire (quite literally), but hey, you will have enjoyed a nice meal. Or you could just practice moderation. But will you? After all, who’s to say that once a year you shouldn’t let your freak flag fly? Assuming you call a taxi, how bad an idea could that be?

Northern Express Poll Indicates …
Rejecting all of these tippy-toe, half measures, let’s assume you imbibed — OK, got ripped. Not premeditatively, just by chance, of course. (And for the record, we are not discussing the decidedly un-funny situation facing those with serious drinking problems.)

A purely non-scientific, non-representative poll of Traverse City drinkers — I prefer the kinder term, tipplers — suggests a range of strategies are at work in the North Country.

When Don Cunningham, 55, an employee at Northwestern Michigan College, meets up with his downstate, hockey-loving buds, he tends towards Michelob Ultra, flavor be damned. (“Ultra” as in more water.) Come to think of it, though, I find him on an early Monday afternoon at Right Brain Brewery. Could this be why person-on-the-street polls are unreliable?

“When I lived in Nebraska, the cure was orange juice and vodka,” he says. In other words, in dire situations, Cornhuskers (and Don) lean towards the old “hair of the dog” approach. Drink some more alcohol. It’s something dieticians say slightly postpones (but does not cure) the coming crash.

Then there’s the 63-year-old designer who enjoys an occasional glass of wine. “I have never had a hangover because I drink wisely,” she claims. (If so, why does she insist on anonymity? This poll is getting goofier by the minute.)

And what about the younger set?
Most of those interviewed tend towards the traditional strategy of Ibuprofen (or something similar) and that old standby, greasy food. But to be up with the times, they also knock down electrolytes to bite back at the dog that bit them.

Before 25-year-old Austin Uptegraft became a dad and toned down his alcohol consumption, he had a clear hangover strategy: “Stay away from sugars, and drink water.” He also headed to McDonalds for a grease fix.

When another young parent, Andrea McNutt, 24, has a hangover, she gives into a massive craving for greasy food. She dutifully tops it off with electrolyte tablets as penance. “But after you become a parent, drinking is not worth it,” she tells me. (Then why does she admit to having had a hangover two weeks ago? I don’t pursue the apparent contradiction.)

Several other 20-somethings agree with grease, water, and some pharmaceutical. How can so many of them give the same answer? Is there a class for this in high school these days? But I hit the jackpot with my next two interviewees.

At The Franklin, corner restaurant/bar on Front Street, I tell the hostess my goal: I’m poking around, trying to find someone who will share their personal cure for the common hangover. She snickers. I ask why.

“Because the bartender here has a huge hangover,” she says, “But don’t tell him I told you.”

Of course I protect my sources. I talk to barkeep Jason Ollila, 45, but don’t tell him I’m already on to his secret. (You readers won’t either, right?)

Jason is an affable guy, but clearly, he’s hurting.

As a pro, he knows how to deal with the after-effects of a heavy night. Customers come in all the time, asking him what they should drink to ease the pain.

“I recommend lots of cocktails like The Fizz (egg white, simple syrup, lemon juice, gin, soda water served with no ice; pictured above) or a traditional Gin Fizz.”

He has a personal favorite, and he’s already had one today: Agnostura Bitters with soda water. 

It seems to be working.

My next, and final interview, is with another food and beverage pro. Kelsey Topper, 25, works as a waitress the U & I Lounge just down the street from The Franklin, and she has a hangover, too. In fact, hers seems to be the Queen Mum of all hangovers.

Normally she relies on a “hair of the dog” counter-attack to return to the living. But last night was too far over the top for that. “I’d just love to be in bed right now,” she says with a tired voice.


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