In The Spirit

How to Beat the Holiday Hangover

Surefire drinks to upgrade your new year cocktails

By Tony Cross

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to regroup and get it together. For most of us that means back to the gym, reintroducing new, or old, diets, New Year’s resolutions — you still do those? — and moderation. There’s nothing wrong with most of these; I usually take a cleanse of some sort to detox the ridiculous amounts of excess that I happily ate, drank and whatevered to my body. Most articles from various publications preach about what you should or shouldn’t do at the beginning of each year. So, in the tradition of cliché January columns on the subject, I bring you: how to drink better this year. I’ve mentioned in previous columns how it’s good to have a handful (maybe I used the word “arsenal”) of drinks in your mental reservoir whenever you’re at a bar or restaurant. This piece of advice still stands.

Cocktail historian David Wondrich once wrote that if you’re a vodka soda drinker, you should probably just continue to drink vodka sodas. Clever, and more than likely true. Most vodka soda fans aren’t drinking for flavor, but if you are, keep on reading. One of my favorite tricks to play on guests is giving them gin instead of vodka. Whenever a patron asked me to come up with something inventive on the fly that used vodka as the main spirit, I would more than likely use Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. Distilled in Sonoma, California, it tastes nothing like any gin you’re used to. This gin is a huge lemon and citrus bomb. I’ve converted plenty of gin haters with this beauty. Add a splash of organic grapefruit juice, and you’ll your new allegiance to gin.

Hangovers are the worst. The only real cure for them is time, but the best way to make crippling pain hurry up and go away is, you guessed it, a drink. Everyone does the mimosa or bloody Mary, and using fresh ingredients with both will get you a better tasting drink. There are a few ways you can switch up these weekend morning staples. First, replace your bloody Mary vodka with a London Dry Gin. A good two ounces of Beefeater’s turns your bloody Mary into a treat. Why would you do that? Why wouldn’t you? You can’t taste the vodka in a bloody Mary unless you put an insane amount in, and with the gin, the myriad of botanicals blend with all the flavors from the bloody Mary mix. I always order them with gin. That’s a great way to switch it up at brunch. Have you had a Corpse Reviver No.2? This is a classic cocktail dating from the pre-Prohibition era. Don’t get this confused with the first type of Reviver (made with brandy, sweet vermouth and applejack); the Corpse Reviver No.2 is made with gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and fresh lemon juice (served up in an absinthe rinsed coupe glass). It’s perfect in the mornings, but if you’re having one of those days where it’s taking your funk a little longer to wear off, try my go-to cure from Chef Warren’s, in my hometown of Southern Pines. This is an equal parts recipe, minus the absinthe. Don’t be afraid, the absinthe is primarily for the olfactory senses.

Corpse Reviver No.2

Absinthe (or Pernod)

3/4 ounce Conniption Gin (distilled in Durham)

3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (available at Nature’s Own)

3/4 ounce Cointreau

3/4 ounce lemon juice

Take a half bar spoon of absinthe (or Pernod) and swirl (rinse) it in a chilled cocktail coupe, making sure the absinthe completely coats the inside. Discard any remaining absinthe and put the glass back in the fridge/freezer while making the cocktail. Place remaining ingredients into your cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake very well, until the drink is ice cold, and strain it into your coupe glass. Take a swath of orange peel, expressing the oils over the drink. Thank me later when you’re feeling better.

OK, Jamo and ginger guy/gal, you’re next. Probably more popular this generation than a Jack and Coke is the infamous Jameson Irish Whiskey with ginger ale. Popular at restaurants and your local pub — just ask the crew at your favorite watering hole. how many bottles of Jameson they go through in a week. More than likely, any establishment with a liquor license that you frequent will be able to mix this up for you, and that’s great, but this is about loading up the arsenal, remember? Enter: Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky. Before you judge, know that Monkey Shoulder blends three Scotch single malts from Speyside, and it sits in used bourbon barrels for three to six months, giving it more of a mellow characteristic. A cocktail that can take the edge of is aptly called Penicillin. Monkey Shoulder mixed with organic ginger, a local honey syrup, lemon juice and a splash of peaty Scotch whisky makes this a perfect wintertime concoction. Bringing this cocktail up to your nose, you’re tricked into thinking that the drink will taste smokier than it actually is.

Penicillin (Sam Ross, Milk & Honey, New York City, 2005)

1/4 ounce Laphroaig (or other smoky Scotch)

2 ounces Monkey Shoulder Whisky

3/4 ounces honey syrup (3:1)

3/4  ounce lemon juice

2 pieces ginger root

Put the ginger in your cocktail shaker, muddle to release the juice. Combine whiskey, honey syrup and lemon juice in your cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until ice cold. Pour over ice in a rocks glass. Float Laphroaig on top of the cocktail (do this by pouring the 1/4 ounce over the back of a bar spoon on top of the cocktail). Garnish with a slice of fresh ginger, or candied ginger.  OH

Tony Cross is a bartender who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern pines.

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