An Emergency Hangover Cure

Dec 27, 2011 9:01 am

Remember Underberg? That curious lil' bottle helps

photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinlissmyr/">Martin Lissmyr</a> on Flickr
photo: Martin Lissmyr on Flickr
Underberg, the stomach settler.
 
The classic Underberg bottle and box.
The classic Underberg bottle and box.
 

My wife and I hosted a Christmas party the other night. It started out a respectable affair, with nibbles, music and casual conversation but when it ended sometime after 2:30, the hardcore revelers (including this host) weren’t merely tipsy. We were f-ing drunk.

Usually, when I’m in this position, I drink a lot of water—several pints—before going to sleep. This seems to work well. But it doesn’t if you don’t drink any water. The morning after was, predictably, brutal. I woke up, tried to hydrate, and immediately went back to bed. I felt hideously nauseous all day.

Then, I remembered the tiny, paper-wrapped bottle of Underberg I had stashed away in the liquor cabinet. Maybe you know what I’m talking about—those little bottles with the green writing that are sometimes by the cash register at German establishments and liquor stores. Never looked the least bit appealing. However, I had this single bottle because it was given to me by Scott, the manager of my favorite wine shop. “Try it next time you’ve got a hangover or feel like you ate too much. Most people hate the taste; I kind of like it.”

I thanked him and shoved it in the liquor cabinet where it rested for months. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get around to trying it, until the day in question.

Without thinking too much about it, I poured the light brown elixir into a shot glass. (I figured I could get it down quicker this way than drinking it out of the bottle.) Without giving it so much as a sniff, I knocked it back.

A bit of a shock, but not too bad!

Easier down than expected. Exceedingly bitter without a hint of sweetness. After swallowing, it was clear this was strong stuff. [I just looked it up and it’s 88 proof.] After the initial bitter flavor and the warming effect on the way down, the hyper-intense herbal after taste hit. Minty, grassy, medicinal and not altogether unpleasant.

Right now, my head is clearer with no trace of a headache, though I suspect that’s simply the hair-of the-dog effect. More impressive is the soothing effect it’s had on my stomach. No more nausea. Dare I say, I actually feel pretty good? [NOTE: the nausea and headache never came back!]

I don’t believe there’s a full-proof hangover cure, and the idea of doing what is basically a very strong shot of booze to feel better is more than a bit reckless. That said, I am already sure I’ll replace the tiny bottle. Putting it way in the back of the cabinet, untouched until the next time I have a hangover that can only be controlled by the nuclear option—Underberg. (Follow the link to see an amazing old German advertisement for the stuff!)

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