Some mornings, a big greasy breakfast is not enough to ease your tense stomach. 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 earthy update on an old winter standby.
THE SPECIALIST: Virginia King, bartender at the Rec Room lounge in Miami
HER ELIXIR: LEMONGRASS-MEZCAL HOT TODDY
ITS ORIGINS: While lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia and India, it is used all over the world to flavor food and drink with an earthy, “lemon” taste. The plant is also used medicinally to treat stomachaches, vomiting, coughing, fevers and headaches. Lemongrass’s essential oils can be applied directly to the skin or inhaled as aromatherapy. Or the plant can be ingested raw in dishes like curries, soups and teas.
ITS HEALING POWERS: Bartender Virginia King of the Rec Room in Miami likes mixing up hot cocktails for the a.m., but doesn’t like serving the typical toddy with lemon. “When people think of hot toddies, they think seasonal, cinnamon, allspice, all of that,” King says. “But I don’t like using citrus because it gives a lot of people heartburn.” So she subs in lemongrass and gets rid of the wintery spices. “The lemongrass gives it such a clean flavor. This hot toddy is more refreshing and soothing than one made with citrus.”
To bump up her toddy’s taste even more, she includes a shot of four-month-aged mezcal and a few dashes of floral bitters that are made with chamomile, jasmine and dried fruit. “The mezcal gives the drink a lot of body and the bitters are more flavorful than bitter,” she says. You could top the whole thing with hot water if you’d like, but King prefers black tea for that little caffeine kick. “This drink is very simple. You need something easy to make when you’re hungover,” she says.
ADD KING TO THE LONG LIST OF BARTENDERS WHO LOVE MEZCAL: “Personally I drink mezcal straight for a hangover,“ she says. "There’s just something about it. It gives you energy. It wakes you up.”
LEMONGRASS-MEZCAL HOT TODDY
THE METHOD: Split lemongrass down the middle (longwise) with a knife. Add lemongrass, agave, and bitters to a heated mug. Muddle. Add mezcal. Top with hot tea.
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep