Last week, the world of alcohol received some unexpected news. North Korea claimed to have developed the impossible dream: hangover-free booze. Since this revelation came shortly after their hydrogen bomb test, many in the spirits industry were skeptical. Purveyors of alcohol tend to be hesitant about endorsing hangover cures anyway, for fear of seeming to endorse binge drinking.
The liquor in question is Koryo, and it appears to be made from red ginseng and scorched, glutinous rice (yes, the Korean cocktail culture is different from ours). The North Koreans maintain that you can drink as much of it as you want and feel perfectly fine the next day. Since many scientists recommend ginseng as a hangover cure, the effectiveness of Koryo might have some factual basis. The bad news is that it is not available in the U.S.
The further bad news is that if you don’t have access to a bottle of Koryo, the only thing that will truly cure your hangover is time.
To alleviate morning-after discomfort, most experts recommend hydration, sleep, caffeine, vitamins, electrolytes, and starchy, simple foods. One of the most effective remedies I’ve used is Berocca, which I discovered in Australia about ten years ago and which is enormously popular Down Under (the Barossa Valley is sometimes referred to as the Berocca Valley). Berocca is essentially Alka-Seltzer on steroids, and contains high levels of vitamins, caffeine, and natural guarana.
One of the latest miracle hangover cures is Pedialyte, an over-the-counter medication originally designed for dehydrated children. It contains double the sodium and five times the potassium as a bottle of Gatorade, with less than half the calories. Pedialyte seems to be effective: one-third of the product is now being purchased by adults, and the company is running ads aimed at drinkers who find themselves overwhelmed by morning-after discomfort.
Naturally, the best way to cure a hangover is to avoid having one in the first place. Drink in moderation, alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water, and consume alcohol along with food. If you can’t do any of that, hop a plane for Pyongyang and hope for the best.
Mark Spivak is the aythor of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); his first novel, Friend of the Devil, is forthcoming from Black Opal Books in 2016. For more information, go to amazon.com.