5 Philly Bartenders Spill Their Best New Year’s Hangover Cures



There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning, still decked out in your clothes from last night, wearing the added accessories of a throbbing around your head and a serious ache in your stomach. But hey, it happens. Especially on, say, the morning following New Year’s Eve. Blame it on that friend who screams, “It’s New Year’s Eve! Let’s do SHOTS!” every half hour on the dot—we all have one.

The unbearable headache can be contributed to the not-so-kind combo of dehydration and cytokines, chemical messengers that trigger inflammation. And the nausea? Well, that’s withdrawal. Now, your best bet to steer clear of these post-party symptoms would be to tell your shot-obsessed friend to shut up, and to take it easy on the alcohol. But sometimes—like on those nights that cause you to wake up the next morning still wearing yesterday’s jeans—that proves impossible.

So what do you do? Well, if you can make it to your computer, you can refer to this post for some advice. Here, we’ve enlisted five local folks in the business of serving alcohol to weigh in on what they consider to be the best hangover cures. And it turns out, Philly bartenders are a lot like us: They too have strong beliefs in the powers of Netflix, greasy food and Bloody Marys.

Below, for all you unlucky folks who make the mistake of over-imbibing tonight, five Philly bartenders personal hangover cures. (And please, read with a grain of salt because, while these guys are alcohol experts, but they are not medical professionals. Meaning: whether you think prescribing yourself a Bloody Mary for breakfast is a good idea is entirely your call.)

Josh Shemesh, Fishtown Tavern
1301 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown.

“I bartended for about 12 years and still fill in when I have to at Fishtown Tavern (editor’s note: Shemesh owns the joint). I’ve had my share of hangovers and I’ve heard endless remedies and theories on how to cure and cope with them. After years of experience, I prefer to say I cope with a hangover instead of curing it. In my opinion, the best way to do that is by popping some Advil before going to bed. This gives me a fighting chance the next day. If I wake up with a hangover, I pop another dose of Advil with as much water as I can put down. Then I go to Sulimay’s on the corner of Berks and Girard and chow down on simple, cheap diner food. Some people make the mistake of getting a coffee, but I don’t. I try to eat enough food to induce a food coma so that when I get back home, I can sleep it off. So to sum it up: Advil, water, cheap (good) diner food, no caffeine and bed.”

Ashley Coleman, Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar
200 South 12th Street, Midtown Village.

“I learned the best hangover cure while living and bartending in Hawaii: A jump in the ocean and the sea air will knock it right out of you. If you don’t have beach access, fill your sink with hot water and sea salt, breathe in the salty vapors, and chase your hot bath with a cold glass of water. That achy balloon head will be clear in no time.”

Dan Lan Hamm, 1 Tippling Place and Spirit Forward
2006 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse.

“So Science says that you can’t cure a hangover, you can only alleviate the symptoms. I employ Science to try the potion of Gatorade, a Digiorno deep dish pizza, Netflix and a little hair of the dog that bit ya.”

Melissa O’Malley, Aki Japanese Fusion Restaurant and Sake Lounge
1210 Walnut Street, Midtown Village.

“Typically to help ward off a hangover, I’d suggest blankets, pillows, bed and more blankets. But when it comes to New Year’s Day, this isn’t the case—no one wants to sleep through the Mummers festivities. So I suggest a little pre-fun prep: Make sure to hydrate and eat a substantial meal before going out, and keep your refrigerator stocked with a few hydrating beverages and smoothie ingredients for the early morning. I leave two glasses of water on my nightstand—one for before bed and one for the always too-early morning hours. In the morning I like to make a refreshing and hearty fruit smoothie to help me start to feel alive again. Throw a cup of tea into the mix for a bit of an extra kick and you’re sure to be ready to continue the celebration.”

Paul Kuhn, Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse
1823 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse.

“When I was six years old, my grandmother divored and came to live with us until she got ‘back upon her feet.’ She was a drinker (third generation off-the-boat Irish, at the risk of further perpetuating a stereotype), and her hangovers were the stuff of legend—intimidating for all parties involved. From her, I learned the ultimate hangover cure: A good Bloody Mary.”

“I still fondly remember watching her concoct a Bloody Mary on weekend mornings. Barely dressed in a bathrobe and slippers, sunken-eyed, she would struggle to find every ingredient she was going to add to her morning ‘recovery’ drink. It was probably sometime around the third or fourth weekend of this morning ritual that she noticed me watching and did what she would always do in instances like this: made it into a teachable moment.”

“There were so many rules (‘guidelines’ is not the proper term) and ingredients to learn. ‘A Bloody Mary is meant to be chewed, not drunk,’ she would say. My grandmother was a fan of horseradish, and there had to be a healthy amount of it in her Bloody Mary. ‘Using a pre-bottled mix is cheating and, at worst, should only be considered as a starting point,’ she warned.

“‘A Bloody Mary is supposed to be spicy. They are supposed to make you flinch, and then reconsider, remember and pay for your sins from the night before. The heat helps to open up one’s pores and helps in sweating out the hangover,’ she’d tell me. We didn’t have Sriracha back then (which I use now), but we would mix all types—and excessive amounts—of pepper, garlic, onion, chili pastes and powders, and the aforementioned horseradish into the tomato juice base of our concoction.”

“My grandmother claimed that the process of making a good Bloody Mary gave one a task or goal—a reason for getting up and moving around, and a sense of accomplishment. She said that the process—and the psychological aspect that came along with it—was just as important as the spice, nutrients and booze.”

“I will not give away ALL of my special Bloody Mary ingredients or secrets, and I would advise that the best way to figure out what one wants in a Bloody Mary is through trial and error. But here, a recipe to get you started: Begin by packing an oversized glass (at least a pint) with ice. Sprinkle black pepper, garlic and onion powder over the ice and add a healthy dollop (at least a forkful) of horseradish on top. Add whatever hot sauce you prefer (I use Sriracha, Cholula and Tabasco) to your desired heat level, then pour a generous measure of vodka (nothing too cheap) over the concoction. Add tomato juice or pre-made Bloody Mary mix and fill the glass just short of the rim. Use a shaker to give the drink a healthy mix. I like to rim the glass with bacon-seasoned salt and garnish the Bloody Mary with celery, lemon, lime, picked and beef jerky or bacon. And if you’re not making one yourself, know: It is a serious taboo to order a Bloody Mary after 5 p.m.”

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