Does The Hair of The Dog Hangover Cure Actually Work?


So I’ve been drinking in some capacity or another for almost exactly 20 years now. And like anyone who’s been a drinker for any period of their life, I’ve endured epic hangovers that are most likely proof that although God does indeed love me – the existence of alcohol being testament to that love – he has a very sadistic sense of humor.

And like most drinkersĀ I’ve tried just about every hangover cure known to man throughout my litany of hangovers – Including the hair of the dog. Sometimes it seemed to actually work, but more often than not it just seemed to make my hangover worse, which is why most seasoned drinkers suggest it to most greenhorns. It’s fun to watch people be miserable.

Because of the very low success rate of the hair of the dog as a hangover cure, it never really ranked very high on my list of best hangover cures.

Until Recently.

(I’m about to go on a little tangent. But stay with me. I promise it will all come together at the end.)

About six months ago I started going to boot camp twice a week. Boot camp is like Crossfit but much, much harder. When I first started I would have to sit in my car afterward and sip Gatorade until the urge to throw up went away. That’s when I began looking for ways to replenish my vitamins and rehydrate quicker after class.

Gatorade, Muscle Milk and any weird tasting sports drink I could get my hands on got a go. None really did any better than just good old room temperature water.

Then one Friday after doing a particularly grueling “300” workout I stopped at my usual gas station and instead of water I grabbed nattya 4-pack of Natty Daddy tall boys. If you’ve never heard of Natty Daddy, it’ s AB’s 8% ABV answer to Steel Reserve – except it doesn’t taste like rotten grains.

After the first Natty Daddy, I felt noticeably better than usual after such a brutal workout. After that, a 24oz Natty Daddy was my post workout drink of choice. Little did I know that I was on to something that Swiss scientist were already testing.

A few months later a group of scientists would release a report with findings that proved that beer was the best choice for re-hydration and replenishment of vitamins after an intense training session.

Beer is packed with calories, carbohydrates, salt and in the case of malt liquor – added vitamins. The FDA actually requires the producers of malt liquors to add vitamins because your usual purveyor of malt liquor will opt to spend his last few bucks on a 40 of Colt 45 rather than actual food. Just Uncle Sam’s way of making sure everyone gets a nutritional meal I guess.

Ok, so all of this got me thinking about the old “hair of the dog” hangover cure. Specifically, it got me thinking about when it DID and when it DIDN’T work. Thinking back, it didn’t work when the “hair” in question was basically any kind of rum, tequila, vodka, gin, bourbon, etc. It DID seem to work when the “hair” was beer.

I tried this theory out recently. Got drunk and got a decent hangover. Drank a small glass of bourbon and carried on with my normal regimen of water. I didn’t observe any accelerated waning of my hangover.

Did the same thing the next weekend. Got drunk on the SAME amount and kind of alcohol as the previous week and got essentially the same hangover. This time I drank a 16oz Steel Reserve. Not only did I get a nice little buzz, I felt like a semi normal human that could adequately function in public. In other words, my hangover subsided noticeably quicker than the week before.

So does the “hair of the dog” hangover cure actually work? Yes and No. Yes if you’re using calorie and carb-laden malt liquor. No if you’re using any kind of liquor.


  1. Dcg303 says

    Nice website. I drink a few shots of Smirnoff red every morning before I work out. I then drink Alive! whey protein/green powder with water, and two yellow powerade’s which contain b vitamins, over the course of the rest of the morning. It’s been working for years with great results

  2. says

    How interesting, the trick is to not let yourself get hungover though. If you wake up and you aren’t drunk anymore, just hungover then it is over for you and you can forget anything productive you were considering doing, if you are still a bit drunk there is hope for you and you should definitely drink beer, then spend the day mildly drunk and happy not super wasted and then the day after you will be fine.
    My parents swear by a hideous concoction of brandy and port as the cure for just about anything (this is what happens when irish marries scottish) but that shit is nasty!

  3. Blake says

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. There is no better hangover cure than a 16 ounce 211. Although to be as functional as possible I suggest adding a 200 mg caffeine pill, a super b-complex vitamin, and a hefty dose of H2O.

  4. B says

    I don’t think it really matters what alcohol you drink. During a hangover I drink 1 shot of vodka, and my hangover symptoms are gone. I don’t feel tipsy, I just feel normal. It doesn’t postpone my hangover, and it doesn’t make me feel worse.

  5. Maggie says

    Came across your good site and this page when I decided it’s time I checked out whether ‘hair of dog’ really works for hangovers, and if so why. I don’t have hangover issues much any more, not a common situation in my ‘age bracket’. But I was interested in your discovery after boot camp workouts. For what it’s worth – watermelon in my experience is an excellent ‘refresher when exhausted from a period of rugged physical activity in hot sun. My experience is in harvesting hay. Others enjoyed beer, but for me the alcohol, even if I was cautious, put me in “done for day’ mode. Getting back to work was tough. Watermelon served. I think it’s got an abundance of sugars, minerals such as potassium, and of course liquid. I suspect boot camp workouts are more grueling than hayfield work so watermelon might not be as effective in that case. A fun read, thanks!

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