Dean Martin’s best advice on avoiding a hangover was to “stay drunk.”
We feel compelled to point out that’s the late Dean Martin.
Nobody - not even ol’ Dino - ever set out to catch a case of the bottle flu. But let’s face it: hangovers can happen, especially after tonight.
Now, we’re not suggesting that anyone go out and get hammered. That wouldn’t be politically correct. Or smart. (And if you do overindulge, don’t drive.)
But should you wake up tomorrow with head pounding and stomach heaving, we’re here to offer some relief.
Like that pesky common cold, there’s no sure-fire cure for the miseries that come with the morning after.
Yet many folks offer advice on how to ease the pain, most of which involves following the kind of advice espoused by Jerry Lewis’ old partner. The suggestions range from sipping everything from Bloody Marys to flat beer.
The phrase “hair of the dog” originated in the 1700s when it was believed that if you were bitten by a mad pooch, binding its hair on the wound was the cure. The “bite” in “the hair of the dog that bit you” evolved to mean booze on the morning after.
Of course, that theory has been debunked as nothing more than a way to put off the inevitable suffering of overdrinking.
It helps to understand the cause of this misery.
According to “The Hangover Handbook” (Mustang Publishing), that pounding headache and queasy stomach could be caused by “dehydration, too much fluid in the brain, a chemical created by alcohol that produces side effects, too much lactic acid in the stomach and too much carbon dioxide in the blood.”
The standard thinking goes that the darker the alcohol, the heavier the damage. But sparkling wine, with its high level of acid, is said to produce some of the worst hangovers.
Quite the opposite of Dean Martin’s tip, the best way to avoid a hangover is to drink moderately and don’t imbibe on an empty stomach.
The next best thing, according to many experts, is being a two-fisted drinker: one hand firmly grasping a glass of water.
“The big problem with a hangover is dehydration, and you can make the morning after a little easier by drinking two or three large glasses of water before going to sleep,” Elson Haas, M.D., director of Preventative Medical Center in San Rafael, Calif., said in a book called “New Choices in Natural Healing” (Rodale Press).
Should that fail to do the trick and the next morning is a nightmare, it might serve you well to treat a hangover much like a cold: Take a couple of aspirin, drink lots of fluid and get some rest.
Or, as the “Hangover Handbook” suggests, crack open one of the following protein-packed remedies:
Mix together vinegar and a raw egg. Gulp it down in one shot.
Pour a half-bottle of beer into a glass. Mix in a raw egg and stir until the foam subsides.
Crack a raw egg, yolk unbroken, into a cup with liberal quantities of Worcestershire sauce. Down it in one sip.
However, with all the concern over raw eggs, you could be trading a hangover for a case of salmonella. And ingesting raw eggs certainly seems more like penance than deliverance.
Tipplers in different parts of the world have battled hangover pain with various, sometimes amusing, methods.
In Russia, they drink heavily salted cucumber juice or eat black bread soaked in water.
Germans take their post-drinking breakfast in the form of sour herring with a beer chaser.
A glass of cream will settle the stomach, according to Norwegian lore.
In France, a bowl of onion soup is believed to chase away the morning-after ailment.
A spicy Mexican tripe stew called menudo is said to stimulate the appetite and soothe the stomach of hangover victims.
A voodoo cure followed in Haiti is to stick 13 black-headed pins in the cork of the bottle that gave you the hangover. (Now, which gutter did you leave it in?)
Or, rub a lemon under your drinking arm as they do in Puerto Rico.
All those approaches certainly sound preferable to practices used in the days of old, when ancient Egyptians ate boiled cabbage or colonial housewives believed that you should soak your feet in mustard and water until your headache disappeared.
These days, with the increased awareness of healthy alternatives, it’s become common to use vitamins and herbs to help repair the damage.
On one World Wide Web site dedicated to hangover cures, vitamin B-1 (thiamine) is touted as an antidote for the hangover blues.
“The Serious Drinker’s Guide to Avoiding Hangovers” suggests that drinking alcohol depletes the body’s supply of thiamine, so popping a couple of 100-milligram supplements before going to bed might boost the ability to efficiently break down alcohol.
In “New Choices for Natural Healing,” Haas advises replenishing nutrients with a powdered drink mix called E-mergen-C, which is a blend of Vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals.
Or skip the supplements and go straight to the source.
“Fresh juices are wonderful hangover medicine since they flush out the system and rehydrate the body at the same time,” Eve Campanelli, a holistic family practitioner in Beverly Hills, Calif., explained in “New Choices for Natural Healing.”
If none of these cures make a dent in the post-binge agony, remember this: Time heals all wounds. At least when it comes to hangovers.
These recipes - some delicious, some downright silly - just might take the edge off that hangover pain. No guarantees, though.
From my friend Melinda Villanueva Huskey, whose family regularly ate menudo for Sunday breakfast.
1 (16-ounce) can Menudito, available in the Mexican section of most supermarkets
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers (or more, to taste)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
Mix the Menudito, oregano, crushed red peppers and onion in a saucepot over medium heat. Just before serving, squeeze lime wedge into the mixture. Serve with warmed corn tortillas.
Yield: 2 servings.
This fishy Scandinavian specialty from “The Hangover Handbook” will make you forget the misery of the morning after.
12 salted herring
1 cup cider vinegar
3 juniper berries
2 tablespoons water
Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Drink slowly for breakfast.
Yield: 1 serving.
The classic breakfast cocktail from “The Joy of Cooking” (New American Library, 1964).
3 (1-ounce) shots of vodka
1 cup chilled tomato juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch garlic salt
Dash of Tabasco (optional)
Shake well with crushed ice and serve, garnished with a celery stalk.
Yield: 2 servings.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Staff illustration by Bridget Sawicki