New Orleans is a city where an invitation to most activities (dinner, the movies, the opera, church, etc.) implies a drink before or after. We love our long lunches, sunny balconies and late nights. Restaurants with go-cups. Bars that never close. Some of us seem genetically predisposed to immunity from hangovers, but for those less lucky, here are some suggestions for making it through the next morning. (Writer's note: "Morning" here is defined as "whenever you wake up.")
Prepping for the night out
- Hydrate. Don't be dehydrated when you start drinking. You'll get drunk faster.
- Eat something. Showing up on an empty stomach will get you drunk faster.
- Be well rested. Yeah, sometimes we get pulled into "one drink" that turns into seeing sunrise, but if you know in advance you're going on a bender, get some rest beforehand. That max-out at the gym or marathon was great for your health, but follow it with binge-drinking and you'll feel terrible the next day.
Here we go
- Hydrate. Yes, it's the big night. Yes, you feel like a rock star. To help with tomorrow morning, make sure you get some water in between those rounds. Don't be embarrassed to ask your bartender for it. He or she would rather serve you water than watch you throw up on the bar.
- Eat something. Graze on food as the night goes on. Many bars offer snacks, sometimes even complimentary ones. But you probably shouldn't eat those spicy bar nuts. First, they're bar nuts. Second, bars like to serve spicy, salty foods because it makes you thirsty.
- Shots? Shots! Never a good idea unless you're feeling celebratory. These exist solely to get you drunk quickly. If you must, participate but don't initiate. If you want to initiate, commit. Don't sip.
- Shots again? Go with straight liquor or mixed with juice. Avoid sugary or caffeinated ones. These will make you insane. I can't keep up with the children, but the "bad idea, guilty pleasure" shots change every few years. SoCo & Lime, Rumple Minze, Jägermeister. Fireball appears to be the current reigning champion.
- Avoid sugar. It makes things delicious, but too much refined sugar will make you feel like crap the next day, alcohol or not.
- I'm not going to tell you not to mix different kinds of alcohol. I, personally, have a cast iron stomach that recently survived a night of tequila, vodka, sake and champagne. (Not an endorsement.) Bottom line: if you drink too much, you drink too much. The kind of alcohol will be irrelevant. If you restrain yourself to one alcohol and hit it too hard all night, you may have an aversion to it for the rest of your life. (This is why people swear off tequila.)
- Remember that changing venues is not a reset button. Yeah, you've only had two drinks at this bar, but you had four at the last one. That's six. Keep track.
- Know when to quit. Feeling dizzy? Walking and talking the way a toddler does? Have you texted your ex? Time to call it a night. If the bartender cuts you off, take the hint and a cab. If you feel you should cut yourself off, that's the only sign you need.
This is an optional time period if your wedding reception or pub crawl was insufficient. It usually takes place in someone's kitchen, a hotel lobby or a dive bar (e.g., "The Mine of Gold and Wonders" or "The Cave of Mistakes").
- Hydrate. Trust me, if you played a good game, this new bartender will notice and want to give you an ice water at this point. Have another glass when you get home before you pass out.
- Eat something. If food is available, go for it. Carb-heavy, fatty foods like po-boys with fried things or cheese fries are the defaults here. Embrace them.
- Nightcap. If you insist on having a last drink, make sure it's something strong enough to discourage you from drinking further. The point here isn't to prove you can drink someone under the table. The point here is distinguishing this as the LAST drink. The End. Finito. No mas.
- Stay up late, ideally with someone else. Sleep slows your organs. So, the more alcohol you metabolize at night, the less you'll have to in the morning.
- Let it go. Puking is neither fun nor sexy. But if your body is trying to purge your system, don't fight it. Get in front of a toilet and aim. You'll feel better afterwards.
Boom! You're awake, possibly with a newfound aversion to light and sound.
- Hydrate! Some people swear by coconut water, Gatorade, or Emergen-C. All that matters is that you down something that is mostly water and not sugar or alcohol. I have yet to try it, but I hear the Remedy Room's IV Rehydration Truck is pretty efficient. (Yes, they hydrate you through IVs, like an ICU patient.)
- Eat something. Don't feel guilty about eating whatever superstitious comfort food you want. Breakfast from McDonald's. Potato chips. Yakamein. Beignets. Pho. Whatever does the trick for you, go get it.
- SLEEP. This step is the most obvious and the least voluntary, the easiest and most efficient way to recover from a night out. Close the curtains and make yourself comfortable. Unless you have to get to work or a Saints game or something.
- Caffeinate if you must be awake. A hot beverage. A cold beverage. I know a model who swears by caffeinated facial moisturizer. But please only caffeinate if you need it. The only thing more annoying than a drunk person or an over-caffeinated person is a drunk, over-caffeinated person.
- Music alters moods. Put on something chill and comforting or something loud and energetic. Whatever puts you in a better mood.
- Get presentable. Remove any incriminating wristbands. Shower. Wash any stamps off your hands. Brush your teeth. Gentlemen, shave (or groom facial hair) if you have the time. Ladies, the bare minimum of makeup if you can. If you look like a slob, you'll probably act like a slob. Want to know why James Bond and the cast of Mad Men always look so dapper despite their constant drunkenness? Because they dress that way.
- Be a team player. Trade stories about what actually happened last night. Go to brunch with your friends. Watch TV with someone on the couch. Cuddle with a pet. Sympathy and camaraderie. You are not alone.
- Hair of the dog. If all else fails, one drink could take you out of your hangover and back into good, old-fashioned drunk. A beer, a glass of wine, an Irish coffee. Follow your heart. Remember that once this buzz wears off, you'll likely be back where you started. Bottoms up.
Keep in mind we all drink like champions annually. It's called Mardi Gras. Try to remember the days of a previous Mardi Gras when you were in your finest form. What kept you going? Channel that modus operandi and you'll be fine. If we applied the dedication, pacing, and sheer willpower of that season to the "average" night out, we'd all be fine.
That's all I've got. Remember: it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Andrew Marin is not a medical professional. Take his advice with a grain of salt and a slice of lime. Although he no longer works at a bar, he takes interest in the economic development of local ones. You can follow this rare hybrid of night owl and early bird on twitter and instagram at @ndrewmarin.