You can’t dominate every night out and walk away unscathed. 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 a drink that’s so simple you don’t even have to wake up your brain cells to make it.
THE SPECIALIST: J Rosser Lomax, bartender at Dram in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
HIS ELIXIR: HURTS TO THINK
ITS ORIGINS: Despite its name, ginger beer is actually alcohol-free. The brewed drink originated in England in the 1700s, and back then it contained ginger, sugar, lemon juice and bacteria—and up to 11 percent alcohol. Modern artisanal soda companies make virgin ginger beers with less sugar and more spice than the traditional methods. Q Drinks in Brooklyn, for example, brews its beer with ginger, agave, coriander, cardamom and lime. So what makes ginger beer different from ginger ale? The ingredients in ginger beer are fermented together, while ginger ale is a carbonated soda that’s flavored with sugar and artificial ginger.
ITS HEALING POWERS: When J Rosser Lomax, a bartender at Dram in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has a hangover, he throws together whatever he has in his apartment. “It’s about simplicity,” he says. “You shouldn’t have to think about it.” His favorite hair-of-the-dog tonic only has three ingredients: lemon juice, ginger beer and the Italian bitter Amaro Montenegro. “It’s bright and spicy without being hot. It’s more of an herbal spicy.”
The lemon hits you with vitamin C, the sweet ginger beer picks your brain back up, and the Amaro Montenegro stimulates your digestion. “With Amaro Montenegro, you get some of that bitter orange, those flowery roots,” he says. “It has a lush, floral flavor profile that’s very soft and inviting.” He says you could also add a dash of Angostura bitters to the drink if you felt like it.
“I’ve always been a little caveman-like with my hangovers,” he says. “I only want sparkling things and bacon. Pork fat, carbon dioxide and a little salt will always get you back on track.” And as long as you keep your pantry stocked with versatile and inexpensive ingredients like the ones in this drink, “Sunday mornings are not nearly as terrifying.”
THEM IS FIGHTING WORDS: “There’s nothing wrong with a Bloody Mary,” Lomax says. “But you may as well be eating a salad.”
HURTS TO THINK
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add Amaro Montenegro and juice from half of a lemon. Stir. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with lemon wheel.
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep