While we would like to believe we are all sensible enough to avoid drinking to excess on New Year's Eve, history suggests there are many for whom the party of the century will be quickly followed by the hangover of the century.
On the off chance that you or yours may be among those unfortunate souls, you may want to use the following suggestions to plan ahead.
We surveyed a few of Honolulu's experts in the area of inebriation -- bartenders -- who offered these suggestions for liquid remedies as well as morning-after comfort foods.
"For me personally, it's the old hair of the dog. Beer, a Bloody Mary or a Ramos Fizz, which is real popular in the Bay area," said Jonathan Schwalbe, bartender at Murphy's Bar & Grill. "The most traditional item where Don Murphy's from, down in Oklahoma, is black-eyed peas and ham," he said.
A lot of people swear by a protein infusion of some kind to remedy a hangover, said Schwalbe, but not being a medical professional, he couldn't say why or whether it helps. Another bit of conventional wisdom is the raw egg, also high in protein. "I don't know if it helps, but it's traditional," he said.
Prepare for the pain -- stand by with these formulas for pain relief:
Black-Eyed Peas and Ham
Phil Hoffpauir, bartender at The Pier Bar, had a similar prescription: Beer, deviled eggs and a turkey sandwich. "I love deviled eggs," he said, adding that they are festive, in keeping with the holiday season.
For Hoffpauir's deviled eggs: Slice hard-boiled eggs in half. Remove yolks and blend with mayonnaise, dijon mustard, finely chopped pepperoncinis and dill pickles (adding some juice from each). Squeeze yolk mixture back into egg whites using pastry bag. "Top it with a little cayenne pepper and paprika and you're good to go. Cures it all," he said.
Nutritionists Joannie Dobbs and Alan Titchenal, who write a food column for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, were the only local health professionals among many contacted willing to comment on the effectiveness of hangover remedies.
While they share the position of their colleagues that refraining from alcohol consumption, or indulging only in moderation, were the smart choices, they were willing to analyze the cures proposed by our laypersons behind the bar for physiological soundness.
Dobbs and Titchenal explained that too much alcohol causes blood vessels to swell, resulting in the symptoms of a hangover. The end product is too much water in the blood, that's what generates those pounding headaches, and not enough water in the cells.
The restorative powers of protein were not clear to them.
But they said the "hair of the dog" remedy, at least as it concerns beer, makes some sense. Beer tends to be a diuretic, said Dobbs, which means it will help to reduce all those fluids pounding around the brain. Caffeine, however, has a similar effect, without adding more alcohol to the system.
The Chicago-based National Headache Foundation recommends drinking fluids containing minerals and salts (broth, for example) to restore the body's balance of fluids.
Many of the bartenders we spoke with hit on this idea sans medical degrees.
Cheryl Hiu, bartender at Side Street Inn, took an informal poll of her own. The first choice in hangover remedies among patrons at Side Street on a recent afternoon was oxtail soup. Second was any other soup, but miso was singled out as another good example. Third was a cheeseburger and fries because of the fat (nutritionist Dobbs said this is a good choice before drinking, as it will decrease the absorption of alcohol into the blood, but after the fact it is likely to further harm the body). And fourth was two beers, not one, but two. Hiu wasn't sure why.
Sean Gongwer, bartender at A Pacific Cafe, also recommended soup, specifically saimin, for both hangovers and colds.
"Drink a lot of fluids, particularly water," said Gongwer, adding the caveat that anything too acidic should be avoided. He also recommended cereals, fruits and milder fruit juices such as guava.
He hit a winner with the fruit recommendation, according to Dobbs and Titchenal.
They named potassium as the ideal conduit to get water back into the cells. According to Titchenal, simply drinking a lot of water isn't nearly as effective as drinking water and eating a banana.
Orange juice, avocado, raisins, kiwi fruit and milk were cited as other good sources of potassium
Dobbs encouraged the consumption of potassium in food rather than supplements, as too much potassium can cause heart trouble.
The National Headache Foundation recommends consuming fructose before going to sleep the night of the overindulgence.
Fructose helps your body process the alcohol more rapidly, according to the foundation. Two sources of fructose it recommends are honey and tomato juice.
The bottom line, according to Titchenal, is eat before you drink. And consume lots of (non-alcoholic) fluids and a good source of potassium before going to sleep.
The "hair of the dog" theory, that a moderate amount of the alcohol that caused a hangover would cure it, dates back at least as far as 16th century England. If nothing else, this example offers some potassium, good for thirsty cells, according to nutritionists.
RAMOS FIZZ1 shot gin
1 splash orange flower water
1 shot milk
1 splash Grand Marnier
1 squeeze lemon juice
1 raw egg
Place crushed ice in a blender. Add all other ingredients. Blend and serve.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving, for 1-ounce shot: 230 calories, 6 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 215 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium. Using 1-ounce shot: 280 calories, 6.5 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 220 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium
Black-eyed peas are served on the first day of the year for luck, but Murphy's will serve the dish New Year's Eve, "because on New Year's Eve here it will already be New Year's Day in Ireland," said proprietor Don Murphy.
MURPHY'S BLACK-EYED PEAS AND HAM1 pound black eyed peas
3 celery stalks
8 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 ham hocks
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight, then rinse. Saute chopped celery, onion and carrot until soft. Add beans to chicken broth along with sauteed vegetables, bay leaves, ham hock and salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. You can use ham bone or chunks of ham, but ham hock is best, Murphy says.
Makes about 8 cups
Approximate nutritional information, per cup: 130 calories, 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium with homemade chicken broth with 1/2 teaspoon salt; greater than 1,000 mg sodium with canned chicken broth.
Oxtail Soup is served at Side Street Inn on Mondays only, as a lunch-time special and it's usually gone by noon, owner Colin Nishida says. So if you need it for a cure on Sunday morning, you'll have to make it yourself.
The Side Street kitchen operates without written recipes, so this formula is an approximation, based on Nishida's notes taken during the making of the last batch on Monday. Don't expect it to come out exactly the same as the restaurant's.
SIDE STREET INN OXTAIL SOUP10-15 pounds oxtails, washed and cut in 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 cup peeled, sliced, smashed ginger
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
12 dried Chinese dates
6 pieces star anise
1 stalk celery
1 carrot, peeled
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) salt
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) pepper
1 cup sake
4 pieces konyaku, cubed
10 shiitake mushrooms, soaked, stemmed and halved
1 bunch mustard cabbage, cut in pieces and blanched
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Cover oxtails in water and boil 15 minutes. Discard water and wash oxtails again to remove blood and smell.
Return oxtails to pot and cover with 3 times as much water. Bring to a boil and skim impurities. Add ginger, garlic, dates, star anise, onion, celery and carrot. (Halve onion; put celery and carrot in whole.) Keep at a soft boil for 2 hours, skimming often, until oxtails begin to soften. The meat should not be falling off the bone.
Remove dates, carrot, celery, star anise and ginger. Add salt and pepper, sake and konyaku; taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Simmer 5 minutes.
Garnish each bowl of soup with mushrooms, mustard cabbage and cilantro. Serves about 20.
Note: Nishida says his restaurant does not put peanuts in the soup, but if you believe they're necessary, throw in a handful with the other garnishes.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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