If you woke up with a smile on your face, you may still be drunk from last night. As a public service to the hungover, every week we track down the best bartenders in America and ask them to share their favorite hair-of-the-dog remedies. This week we’ve got an easy morning cocktail that bartenders across America swear by.
THE SPECIALIST: Ryan Wainwright, head bartender at Terrine brasserie in Los Angeles
HIS ELIXIR: COCCHI AND SODA
ITS ORIGINS: Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is a bitter Italian pre-dinner drink that has been produced since 1891. Cocchi starts as a white wine and is then aromatized with various herbs and spices such as genetian, an anti-inflammatory root, and orange peels. It is often compared to Lillet, another white wine-based aperitif, but unlike Lillet, Cocchi includes cinchona bark, a natural producer of the painkiller quinine. Lillet was originally made with quinine, but its recipe was reformulated in the 1980s and the quinine was eliminated. In fact, Lillet is no longer aromatized at all; instead, it is fortified with citrus liqueurs.
ITS HEALING POWERS: Ryan Wainwright, head bartender at Terrine in L.A., drinks Cocchi mixed with soda almost every morning. “It has a really clean, bright flavor,” he says. “I feel like I’m having a really nice bottled soda.” And since Cocchi is only 16 percent ABV, it doesn’t do too much damage in the a.m. “Cinchona bark has always picked me up,” he says. “Cocchi makes me feel like I’m doing something right for my stomach.” He adds a few dashes of cardamom-orange bitters to accentuate the herbaceous flavor of the two-ingredient drink. Wainwright even serves what he calls a “I’m-not-hungover” version of the drink using rosa Cocchi and Prosecco. It’s basically a fancy spritz.
“Most of the drinks that get me through a tough time have the same elements: bubbles, low-ABV but still some ABV, and citrus,” he says. “I don’t know why it works, but, man, it takes the edge right off.” If he is beyond the grasp of even those bubbly cures, he has only one other option: “I would never make this concoction behind a bar, but I have reached out to it in many times of need. I halve a whole coconut and drain out about half of it. I add 1 cup of aloe vera juice—a real stomach soother—1 ounce of white Demerara rum, ½ ounce fresh lime juice, and ½ ounce of fresh ginger syrup. One word: Whew!”
A PERFECT ANALOGY: "A hangover is like gas,” Wainwright says. “Everyone gets it, but no one wants to talk about it.”
COCCHI AND SODA
- 2 oz. Cocchi Aperitivo Americano
- 2 dashes Regans’ orange bitters
- Soda water
Pour Cocchi and orange bitters into a glass of ice. Top with soda water and an orange twist.
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep