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[whitespace] Tips for the Y2Koed?

Santa Cruz bartenders offer some seasoned advice for heading over a hangover on the big night

By Janet Blaser

WHETHER YOU DECIDE to go out on New Year's Eve or stay home, chances are there'll be champagne or some other alcoholic beverage in the picture. And chances are also good that there will be a little too much of it. Well, should that be the case, what follows are some ostensibly tried-and-true hangover remedies. Not tried by me--no, mon cheri, I'm such a lightweight drinker that after one glass of wine I've had enough--but made and served by seasoned bartenders with decades of experience between them. Experience healing those that are hurting the day after, that is.

It's no fluke that orange juice tastes so good the morning after a night of heavy drinking--it's the Vitamin C that your body is craving. Try to make it the freshest OJ you can find, too; if you can stash some Odwalla in your fridge before you go out you won't be sorry. From a waitress at the Seabright Brewery, I heard that electrolyte-filled Gatorade helps prevent a throbbing head and upset stomach if drunk before you go out. And almost every bartender (and friend) I spoke to advised taking at least two aspirin and drinking "tons and tons" of water right before you finally hit the sack.

Let's say the night is over, it is Jan. 1, 2000, and you wake up with--ugh--your first hangover of the new millennium. Sean T. at Clouds Downtown has something special waiting for you, if you can make it into Santa Cruz proper. He describes his Red Eye Special as "more or less like a tightened-up Bloody Mary, but a little spicier and a little stronger, with fresh lime and lemon juice, fresh ground black pepper, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce." Served in a double shot glass, "It's awesome," Sean says. Others said the secret is to ingest a little bit of alcohol in the morning, to get the rest of the alcohol flowing out of your system. Bartender Michael Ackerman of the Asti Cafe does it quick: "A shot of Jack Daniel's," followed by lots of water. (Of course, he's probably one of those guys that likes going to the dentist, too.) But that's the philosophy behind the success of Bloody Marys as a hangover remedy--that little bit of vodka, masked in Vitamin C­rich tomato juice, goes a long way toward calming your stomach and cleaning out your system.

Then I heard-tell of a bottled elixir, rumored to cure what ails you when it comes to hangovers. Seems that the Front Street Brewing Company in Santa Cruz carries tiny bottles of all-natural German Underberg bitters that pack a wallop against a hangover. Bartender Chris Nelson said the bitters are 44 percent alcohol, are flavored with herbs like gentian and taste, well, "gross--they're really bad." But, he added, they really work. And the way to drink it is explained right on the label: "Not to be sipped but to be drunk swiftly." So don't be shy, just ask for a bottle--they're behind the counter hanging on a big old belt like so many bullets in the Wild West, for $2 a pop. However, if that's not your cup of tea, the pub also offers a Red Porter: its own version of a Bloody Mary, made with half V8 and half Pacific Porter. And how does that taste? "Better than the Underberg," quipped Chris.

Moe's Alley veteran barman Tahaj shared this bit of advice: "Try a rum and Coke, because anything with a high sugar content is going to help." Personally, he likes a mixture of soda water, bitters and a splash of vodka. And then there's the infamous Ramos Fizz, served in bars everywhere. Chris Kim of the Seabright Brewery first explained that the higher the sugar content in the alcohol, the worse your hangover will be. So that queasy stomach the day after all those eggnogs is to be expected. Chris' special morning-after concoction consists of a raw egg, a little gin, soda water, orange flower water, nutmeg and a little cream. "Best thing is a lot of vitamins, aspirins before you go to bed and lots of water," he added. However, Randall (not Kane) at the Catalyst, with more than 20 years of bartending under his belt, had perhaps the best advice: "The smart thing to do is not to drink that much."

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From the December 29, 1999-January 5, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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