bloody mary perfect hangover

The perfect hangover — and the elusive cure

Ranald Macdonald, founder of Boisdale and all round bon viveur, divulges his secret formula

(Words by)
Ranald Macdonald

The trouble with temptation is that it is always delicious. Succumbing to its seduction, however, will undoubtedly result in some kind of retribution. When one is enjoying the beneficial effects of the principal cause of a hangover, it is all too easy to be enticed into the realms of hangover certainty. Miraculous after-dinner digestifs like whisky, cognac and port will induce sublime contentment, clarity of thought and inspired conversation — as well sufficient courage to consciously and completely ignore the perils of dawn.

With the demon drinks come the inevitable second or third unnecessary cigars, which in their own right require further quantities of the aforementioned exquisite beverages, because a good smoke can’t be decently enjoyed without a complimentary snifter in hand, and if one still has a glass of something special when the cigar comes to its glorious conclusion one needs another cigar — and so on and so forth. Hopefully someone says they had better head for bed before 5.00am.

The euphoria allows us to sleep remarkably soundly — often rather suddenly and occasionally in awkward positions — though if we make it to bed our partners may not enjoy the resulting sounds. Upon waking the next day — and attempting to raise one’s head off the pillow — we discover that we are terminally ill and unable to move. We then vaguely try to remember what we can of the night before and perhaps shudder at some indistinct or all too real memory. The realisation then hits us that we are severely hungover — which is somewhat of a relief.

Invariably we say never again and mean it with fierce conviction. Every minute remaining in bed is a glorious benediction. We drift back into painless sleep in a moment with lucid dreams, invariably including us enjoying a cool glass of refreshing water and having a glorious pee. We wake parched and hopefully still bursting, stumble out of bed — and have an appalling day. If any of the above has a familiar ring to it (and is something you would not like to repeat) my advice to you is as follows:

Firstly, you can’t have your cake and eat it. The only strategy is damage control. Two large tablespoons of good cold pressed olive oil before the start of the evening. First drink of the night: a large glass of water to quench your thirst and hydrate you. I personally don’t believe in the doctrine of not mixing grape and grain, but there are “dirty” drinks in which chemicals other than alcohol exist that will increase the severity of your hangover. The obvious ones are gin, cognac and port. Properly made wine will also do you less harm. Cheaper reds that taste alright are often confected with additives that can create head-splitting hangovers. Clean spirits like whisky and vodka are good.

Drink water throughout the night. Limit yourself to two cigars. Avoid sugary drinks, cocaine and coffee. These will only extend your natural party inclination later than otherwise, involving more liver damage and less sleep. Learn to leave a party when you are having a great time. Don’t chase the moment beyond its natural end. Before laying your head down take two paracetamol (or, in anticipation of carnage, two Solpadeine) with a large glass of water. Skip breakfast and awake refreshed and ready for a long relaxing lunch, which is the perfect antidote to a reasonable hangover, and almost always more fun than the night before.

A handsome man’s guide to a hangover…

Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.