Friday, June 27, 2008

Tomorrow's punishment

Long hard week? Is the government driving you to drink? Time for a Friday Afternoon cocktail.

Maybe an Income Tax.

Drink Type: Cocktail - I
1 1/2 tsp. Dry Vermouth - (more)
1 1/2 tsp. Sweet Vermouth - (more)
1 oz. Gin - (more)
1/4 Lemon (Juice of, fresh) - (more)
dash(es) Bitters - (more)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass

However, even the best cure for the tax man blues can be overindulged. Then comes morning.

I'm sure the hangover was invented shortly after the first grains were fermented for alcohol. It doesn't take Jason Robards to tell you that The Day After can really suck. Every experienced drinker at some time or another went too far and then the next day was one they swore they would never forget.

And then there's always, "The Worst." The Worst Hangover you ever had, and everybody has that story. Mine involved an introduction to a product of Greek barbarism, Ouzo. That night I was loaded into a pick up truck and driven to a friend's place where I was deposited on the couch face-over-the-edge. The next morning I wanted to die, and of course I swore, NO MORE ALCOHOL. Yeah, right.

But it taught me a valuable lesson. Actually two lessons. The first, I know the real reason Troy fell. The horse was filled with bottles of Ouzo. The second lesson actually took time to sink in. Booze, even good booze, can be your enemy.

Most people can enjoy a drink or two in moderation, but sometimes moderation slips away in the margarita glass and you wake up with Jimmy Buffet tattooed on your arm. And then, the pain hits you. From there, the physical torture begins. If the Lord has been merciful, he will have spared you the memory of the extremely stupid and irresponsible conversations you had last night. Unfortunately, most times you're cursed with A Just Hebrew God and you're punished accordingly. Even if you could see, there would be no solace in the Book of Job. Besides, your "friends" remember everything.

Slate Magazine took a look at the morning after, and it's effects.

But if remorse is one part of the hangover, so is resolve—the refusal to give into the worst of it. This resolve isn't always there; capitulation is just as common. But the refusal to give in, or give up, isn't uncommon, and it's not always fueled by Irn Bru. Years ago, the story goes, an English cricket team toured India, and a maharajah believed he could influence what would be a five-day game by getting two of the players drunk. So he did, and the two men woke up the next morning with bad hangovers. Worse, when the game began, they were the first two players to bat. Yet they survived the entire day—all six hours of it. The adversity of their hangovers appeared to introduce further circumspection to their playing. As in baseball, keeping your eye on the ball is essential for a batsman, and I've heard this tale told to numerous players feeling the worse for wear before the start of a game—to remind them that this may be, improbably, their best day.

Kingsely Amis, for some the hangover godhead, knew all about the resolution associated with hangovers. He said of them that they exerted "a great restraining influence" on life. He also laid down the principle that anyone who says they have a hangover has no hangover, an observation that others less experienced than he might disagree with. Then again, it's not as if experience or another person's wisdom is tremendously helpful in identifying a hangover, and being told about hangovers worse than your own is really no cure.

Newsweek actually looked into the cause of hangovers.

Alcohol is first broken down in the liver into a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is then further broken down into a harmless substance called acetate. At high doses, acetaldehyde causes nausea, vomiting, sweating and other symptoms akin to the hangover. Although there is no acetaldehyde in your system when you have a zero blood-alcohol level, some of the after-effects of the toxin may persist the morning after.

Congeners, by-products of the distillation and fermentation process, may also play a role in making holiday partiers miserable. Darker-colored liquors such as brandies, bourbon and red wine contain more congeners than lighter colored alcoholic beverages like gin or vodka. The big-bad of the various congeners is methanol, which is broken down by the body into formaldehyde. In the vernacular, formaldehyde is embalming fluid. When living people have this in their circulation, the clinical term for how they feel is "rotten," Swift says.

Since alcohol is a diuretic, you'll wake up dehydrated. That dehydration explains some of the symptoms such as headaches and a dry mouth. Alcohol also plays havoc with the body's biorhythms, disturbing sleep patterns, despite it being a sedative. That lack of sleep contributes to the overall misery.

Oddly, "some people can get a hangover from one or two drinks," Swift says. "And it's usually the moderate or light social drinker who suffers the most." At particular risk, though, are women. Researchers at the University of Missouri, Columbia, found that women experience worse hangovers than men, despite the amount of alcohol consumed.

For those of you about to suffer, I actually found this video informative on curing a hangover.