I’ve been drinking in some capacity or another for almost 20 years now. And like anyone who’s been a drinker for any period of their life, I’ve endured epic hangovers. And like most drinkers I’ve tried just about every hangover cure known to man, including the hair of the dog. But does the hair of the dog hangover cure work?
Sometimes it seemed to, 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.
(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.
The Hair of the Dog Discovery
Then one Friday after doing a particularly grueling “300” workout I stopped at my usual gas station, and instead of water, I grabbed a 4-pack of Natty Daddy tallboys. 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 scientists 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 rehydration 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. I 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.
I 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.