It seems obvious. To avoid a hangover, don’t drink too much.
But even one or two drinks can cause the sluggish feeling associated with a hangover the next day. There are ways to lessen a hangover, although the only way to completely avoid an arduous morning is to abstain from drinking the night before.
Trade professionals have their own suggestions on how to curtail the penalty of a hangover. A sommelier is a wine professional valued by the world’s top dining establishments for their unparalleled knowledge and palate for great wine.
Beyond wine, experienced sommeliers are often experts on all sorts of beverages. As the hotel sommelier for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Jason Sanders knows that especially during the holidays, guests are free to enjoy evening festivities that can often lead to morning hangovers.
“Common sense isn’t always predominating during the holiday season, so if you are going to celebrate with a few cocktails, drink plenty of water,” Sanders said.
Dietitian Joy Post of Cederquist Medical Wellness Center in Naples agreed, saying to “just add water” when it comes to drinking alcohol over the holidays to help prevent hangovers.
“If you are drinking alcohol, have a large glass of water before and after each drink,” Post said. “Alcohol is loaded with calories, causes dehydration, and decreases your willpower, so water will help to rehydrate and fill you up.”
Post also advised spacing drinks over time.
“A hangover is simply withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and severe dehydration, so time is the only thing that will speed the process of detoxifying the liver of alcohol,” Post said.
Across town at Old Naples Pub, patrons enjoy only beer and wine, but too much of either beverage can cause a hangover. Manager and bartender Debbie Ferreira advises not to mix different types of beverages.
“Stay with the same type of alcohol,” Ferreira said. “Drink only beer or only wine, but try not to mix more than one.”
Sometimes, what you drink is as relevant as how much you drink when it comes to the gravity of a hangover. So says a new study published by the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
The researchers report that congeners in alcohol, which are surplus impurities from distillation, contribute to hangovers.
Vodka has the least number of congeners. Brown liquors such as rum, whiskey, and bourbon have the most congeners.
For Sanders and most bourbon aficionados, the flavor of a good bourbon is worth any impurities it might have.
“Bourbon has the most impurities of any liquor, but is widely regarded as the most flavorful,” Sanders said. “The most popular bourbon cocktail is the Old Fashioned, which has made a huge resurgence in the past few years.”
Ritz-Carlton Naples Grill makes its Old Fashioned with spicy Buffalo Trace Bourbon and brandied cherries.
But cocktail fruit isn’t enough to ward off the fast-acting effects of drinking on an empty stomach, something which Post, Sanders and Ferreira all warn against.
Several sources, including the online community Hangover Network, advise eating a full meal before drinking alcohol. Bread can be especially helpful in preventing nausea, which is often blamed for worsening hangovers. Snacking while drinking also has been shown to help dilute alcohol.
“Both drinking water and eating on a full stomach will limit the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream,” Sanders said. “Find a great spot where you can order a few small courses and try to nibble as you drink.”
The Ritz-Carlton food and beverage team designed its new Bites concept for the lounge in the lobby for this purpose, encouraging guests to share a number of more than 40 small plates made to be passed around the table along with cocktails.
Food, cocktails and wine have long been closely linked.
Sanders designed a cocktail list for the Ritz-Carlton’s Bites concept that blurs the lines between kitchen and bar. The bartender works hand-in-hand with the hotel chef, even sharing a workspace. For this reason, bartenders have access to products most often associated with food, not alcohol, like cilantro which is used to make the Ritz-Carlton vodka mojito, a variation on the traditional drink without the rum (and its accompanying congeners).
“Is there a cure for hangovers? The answer lies in how well you need to function the next day,” Sanders said. “Plenty of water, sleep, and a few aspirin work for millions of people to help a hangover.”
Ferreira also recommends a pain reliever and extra water before bed, along with another remedy that while not at all scientific, is undoubtedly more enjoyable than Advil and a bottle of H2O.
“If you wake up feeling ill,” Ferreira said, “stop by the Old Naples Pub for a juicy cheeseburger and French fries and follow it up with a nap after lunch.”
Contact Kelly Merritt at Kelly@Kelly-Merritt.com