The Drunken Vegan, a.k.a. Patrick J. Hurley, is a full-time barman at the Civil Life Brewing Company and cocktail enthusiast about town. He's an unapologetic drunkard, a vegan and a bon vivant, and, no, he doesn't think those last two terms contradict each other.
It's never a problem finding something to do New Year's Eve, with all the events, special dinners and parties to choose from. It's the day after that really requires foresight and careful consideration. Be sure to lay in supplies for your first drink of 2015. It just might be the most important drink of the year, so choose wisely.
See also: Perfecting the Eggless Nog
How to tackle a hangover has been explored by many professional drinkers, and even amateurs will be handy with advice. You can always pick a tried-and-true option like a bloody mary. Just be sure to make it from scratch; no store-bought mix is very good. But there are plenty of other options.
You can always go with a Champagne cocktail, especially if you have some extra bottles of champers from the night before. The key to this drink is to offset the stomach-churning acidity of the Champagne with a little sugar. Bitters will add to the healing process, as well as the complexity of flavor. English author Evelyn Waugh offers a recipe for a delicious variation he discovered on his travels through Africa. You douse a sugar cube in Angostura bitters, then roll it in cayenne pepper. Put it in a Champagne flute and top off with Champagne. Waugh's description of this drink makes it irresistible:
The excellences of this drink defy description. The sugar and Angostura enrich the wine and take away that slight acidity which renders even the best Champagne slightly repugnant in the early morning. Each bubble as it rises to the surface carries with it a grain of red pepper, so that as one drinks one's appetite is at once stimulated and gratified, heat and cold, fire and liquid, contending on one's palate and alternating in the mastery of one's sensations.
If that sounds a little too literary, try the exquisite drink popularized by bartender Harry Craddock at the Savoy Hotel in London in the 1920s. The aptly named Corpse Reviver Number Two combines equal parts gin, white vermouth, Cointreau and lemon juice. Shake it well and strain it into a cocktail glass, then add a dash of absinthe. Delicious and highly effective. "Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again," Craddock cautions.
But you don't need to take the advice of early twentieth-century authors or long-dead bartenders. We talked to some of St. Louis's best (living) bartenders to find out what you should put in your glass when you rise New Year's Day.
"The only true remedy to a hangover is time and rehydration, but if you want to feel better the morning after and extend your fun, I would say try one of these," Ted Kilgore of Planter's House (1000 Mississippi Avenue; 314-696-2603) says, offering a list of options:
Campari/Aperol and fresh grapefruit Gin, Campari and grapefruit Punt e Mes sweet vermouth and grapefruit Red Snapper (bloody mary with gin) Milk Punch (brandy, rum, or bourbon with milk) Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda)
Joshua Johnson of Mission Taco Joint in Soulard (908 Lafayette Avenue; 314-858-8226) has his own take on the Champagne cocktail.
"London Calling" 1.5 oz. London Vodka .75 oz. fresh lemon juice .75 oz. honey syrup (1:1) Sparkling wine
Method: Shake/fine strain/top with sparkling wine Glass: Champagne flute Garnish: grapefruit & lemon zest
If that seems like too much work to do for your first drink of the day, go with Johnson's time-tested dynamic duo -- the "Batman and Robin" consists of a Budweiser and a bloody mary.
Matt Osmoe of Blood & Sand (1500 St. Charles Street; 314-241-7263) goes old school when he needs a cure. "Salted fish and egg on rye bread with a shot of akevitt and a handful of aspirin. Nothing fancy, but tried and true. A cure from the old country," he says.
Small Batch Whiskey and Fare (3001 Locust Street; 314-380-2040) has its own take on the classic Champagne cocktail. "We call it the 'Shrubbly,'" front-of-house manager Tim Wiggins says. "We replace the sugar cube with a local ginger liqueur called Big O that offers a lot of sweetness, and we use a housemade shrub instead of the bitters, then top it, of course, with bubbles. The shrub is a hibiscus-strawberry syrup combined with apple-cider vinegar that offers the sweet/tart/bitter notes in the classic cocktail." Or if you want a simple solution, a shot of Fernet-Branca will cure anything, according to Wiggins.
No matter what you put in your glass on New Year's Day, the whole Gut Check crew will be raising their glasses with you in spirit. Happy New Year!