We’ve all been there. Your mouth is drier than the Gobi Desert. Your brain feels like it’s being compressed between a concrete slab and elephant’s foot. You’ve been tenderised. You’re hungover.
Everyone has their own go-to remedy – but is yours the best? We took a worldly trip around Melbourne to find out about different traditional hangover remedies from around the globe. It’s time to expand your repertoire. Here’s how.
Vodka: usually not your friend the morning after. The Polish, however, fight fire with fire.
“Every sick child in Poland is given a shot of clear vodka with cracked pepper on top – no matter how young. Ask any Pole,” says Philip Tait, chef and co-owner of Polish-inspired Borsch, Vodka & Tears.
“Bloody Marys are an extension of the vodka with pepper – just with some more healthy vegetable-type ingredients,” Tait says. Borsch infuses chilli and garlic into grain vodkas specifically for its Bloody Marys. “Chilli to combat the sick feeling, garlic for its antibacterial powers.”
He also adds that being hungover is a pretty big part of Polish culture, so there are plenty of hangover cures. Tait says, “My personal favourite is potato pancakes. If that doesn't cure a hangover, nothing will.” Good news, they’re on BT&V’s menu, too.
Owner and chef of Pabu Grill & Sake Khoa Nguyen says shijimi, a clam miso soup, is thought to have liver detoxifying qualities. It’s a very popular traditional hangover method still used today.
“A good shijimi miso soup will do the trick,” says Nguyen. Sadly, shijimi is difficult to reproduce in Australia because getting the right clams, fresh, is tricky. Alternative? A Japanese plum fruit called umeboshi. “Umeboshi has vinegary acids thought to assist the liver. The saltiness helps balance electrolytes and the tartness certainly slaps you in the face and wakes you up,” says Andre Bishop, the restaurant group owner of Nihonshu. At Nihonshu there’s a giant jar of umeboshi sitting on the bar.
Merida Anderson, manager of Sicilian restaurant Bar Idda, believes in the caffè corretto – a shot of espresso “corrected” by adding a splash of white Sambuca. While the sheer mention of caffeine after a big night may raise some cardiac issues, Italians have one of the longest life expectancies in the world so they might be on to something. Now that Idda is open for Sunday lunch, you have a completely acceptable reason to try it out. Green Park has it on the menu, too. Celebrity chef Guy Grossi of Grossi Florentino says he just can’t go past a pasta classic. “A spaghetti agile e olio is perfect for when you’re nursing a sore head and in need of pick-me-up food. I’ve definitely made a few of these on return from a big night out.” He notes that this is one of the simplest of all pasta dishes to make, but sometimes you don’t have time (or energy) for that. Let Grossi take care of you.
Jim Karabagias, owner of Demitri’s Feast is a self-proclaimed “master of hangovers”. He believes that many modern hangover fixes can be traced to ancient Greece (like most things).
“If you go out drinking in Athens, the last thing you'd turn to would be a souva for a hangover cure. In Greece, it's all about patsa soup with avgolemono sauce,” he says. “That’s tripe broth with egg-and-lemon sauce. The broth is protein rich, easy to digest and a guaranteed stomach-settler.” Aware that tripe is a tough sell, especially to those with already-delicate stomachs, Karabagias serves a Greek-inspired hangover feast that references traditional patsa soup. It’s a twist on baked eggs, but the best part is: your meal begins with ouzo and finishes with ouzo. Place an order for the “special hangover feast” and he’ll know what you’re talking about.
For non-intravenous solutions, she recalls the Frito pie. “Many Texans grew up eating this classic dish in their school cafeterias for lunch, so it only makes sense that this comforts us in our lowest times.” Fritos (“fried” in Spanish) are an American brand of corn chips. Top them with basic ingredients including chilli and cheese, and you get a frito pie.
Bell and owner and head chef of Bluebonnet BBQ, Chris Terlikar have often discussed importing Fritos to create the pie for the menu. And now they’re serving it. The recipe isn’t just your average chilli and cheese – think 12-hour smoked brisket with chipotle pepper-infused chilli topped with sour cream, cheese and sliced jalapeños.
“The most famous hangover cure in Peruvian street culture is by far a very, very fresh ceviche with a shot of tiger’s milk”, says Pastuso chef and native Peruvian, Alejandro Saravia. Tiger’s milk is the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in a ceviche. “The fresh and citrus flavour of this traditional Peruvian dish helps cut through a big night out.” According to Saravia, it’s a normal Peruvian ritual after a big night. “You go dig your feet in the sand and enjoy a good ceviche accompanied by nice cold beer.”