THE SPECIALIST: Erick Castro, bartender/proprietor of Polite Provisions in San Diego’s Normal Heights.
HIS ELIXIR: The Beautiful Stranger.
ITS ORIGINS: Castro’s fizzy cure derives from the classic morning cocktail, the mimosa. The orange juice-Champagne version was first served in 1925 at the Ritz Paris, a favorite watering hole of American writer Ernest Hemingway. (Many say the French stole the cocktail idea from London’s Buck’s Club, which had been serving an orange juice-Champagne concoction, the “Buck’s Fizz,” since 1921.) During World War II, the German army quartered its generals in the Ritz Paris, which really rubbed Hemingway, now a civilian war correspondent, the wrong way. So according to legend, in August 1944 Hemingway formed an illegal militia and led a campaign to free the Ritz—and its famed bar—from the Germans. Whether Hemingway actually contributed to the Battle of Paris or not, the occupying Germans surrendered and the Ritz Paris renamed its saloon Bar Hemingway in his honor.
ITS HEALING POWERS: Polite Provisions, an old-timey soda fountain serving classic cocktails, has a very specific clientele that shows up hungover during the week: other bartenders. “At 1 P.M. on a Monday, you’ll come into the bar and find people from the service industry drinking,” Castro says. “They always have rough weekends.” Like a real soda jerk, he likes to sling them something fizzy.
“When you’re hungover, you want something citrusy and bubbly to help wake you up,” he says. “A Champagne drink is light and refreshing. No one with a hangover wants to drink a Manhattan.”
While some bartenders would prescribe a traditional mimosa, Castro elevates the Champagne tonic by ditching the OJ and replacing it with fresh lemon juice and a local favorite. “In Southern California, tequila is in our blood,” Castro says. “People love it in cocktails here.” Mexico’s most famous liquor makes the drink a little more interesting and a lot more boozy. Impressed with his creation, he called it The Beautiful Stranger. “The cocktail is so elegant and sexy that it needed a name that was along the same wavelength.”
*CASTRO’S GUIDE TO HUNGOVER EATING: *“Order a burger to go along with this drink. No one wakes up after a night of drinking and is like, ‘oh man, I could crush an Asian salad right now.’” THE INGREDIENTS: 1½ oz Olmeca Altos Blanco tequila ¾ oz lemon juice ¾ oz grenadine Champagne THE METHOD: Shake the tequila, lemon juice and grenadine in a pony shaker. Pour into a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.