Whether you had a marathon night of partying or you literally ran a marathon last night, you need a good morning drink to comfort your pounding head. We’re here to help. 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 rehydrating cocktail that can trace its roots back to the Triassic period.
HER ELIXIR: Salty Dog
ITS HISTORY: Juniper, a member of the cyprus family, has grown on earth for more than 250 million years. The berry-producing shrub is native to nearly every continent because it came into this world when they all existed as one: Pangaea. Humans have been drying juniper berries, swishing them around with alcohol and other botanicals, and calling it medicine for as far back as medicinal literature goes. (Juniper does help flush fluid through the kidneys at least.) So it’s no wonder that gin—which is flavored with juniper—is considered the all-around best spirit for fostering health.
ITS HEALING POWERS: Salty Dogs are meant to go down easily and stay down. The classic recipe calls for gin and grapefruit juice, served in a glass with a salted rim. (Subtract the salted rim and it’s called a Greyhound.) Tricia Carr, director of mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits, reduces the alcohol content in her Salty Dog and uses organic Bainbridge Heritage Doug Fir gin, which tastes woody, almost green.
“When you’re hungover, you are trying to fight toxins, so we want to keep it really clean,” she says. The fruit juice replenishes electrolytes and the salt helps with rehydration. “Citrus juice is a better thirst quencher than water when you’re severely dehydrated. It’s almost too late for water at that point.”
Salty Dogs aren’t only beneficial to heavy drinkers. “Because we’re so busy, just your regular lifestyle can cause a hangover effect,” Carr says. “Missing a meal can really dehydrate you too. I hear that all of the time. ‘I don’t understand, I just had one glass of wine last night and I’m hungover today!’ It’s probably the other things you did that day.”
For a variation on the traditional Salty Dog recipe, try swapping out the tart grapefruit juice for other citrus juices, such as the floral and sweet pomelo or the grapefruit-pomelo hybrid, oroblanco. And if you insist on replacing the gin with vodka, Carr says you should use wheat vodka and add a dash of Angostura orange bitters. (“Imagine eating a nice fluffy piece of wheat bread topped with a delicious marmalade,” she says. “It’s slightly sweet and slightly acidic. That’s the taste you’re going to get with this version of the drink.”)
CHEERS TO THAT: “A lot of medicines have alcohol in them,” Carr says. “Alcohol actually expedites the pharmaceutical or homeopathic properties to your blood faster. You literally can drink to your health.”
4 oz. organic Ruby Red grapefruit juice (juice of one big grapefruit)
1 oz. Bainbridge Heritage Doug Fir gin
5 drops saline solution (salty water)
Squeeze of lime
THE METHOD: Make saline solution: Whisk salt into hot water until it no longer dissolves. Strain out the dry salt that did not dissolve. Assemble cocktail: Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add all ingredients.
Alyson Sheppard is a writer at Playboy Digital. Her work has appeared in Maxim, Popular Mechanics, Mental Floss, McSweeney’s, National Geographic Adventure, and more. Follow her on Twitter.