The Bartender's Guide to Not Having A Hangover

drink like a pro.

illustrations by liz riccardi

Hangovers. If you're one of the more than two thirds of drinkers who've had one, you know the feeling: the searing headache, the nausea, the malaise—barf. One would imagine—or, on those hungover days, pray—that, after all these years, science could have devised a cure. Turns out it's not so simple.

The problem with hangovers is that researchers haven't definitively determined what causes them. While in the past, dehydration was deemed by many to be the main culprit behind those hazy mornings-after, that's just a small piece of the puzzle as experts continue to study the phenomenon. Mayo Clinic, for one, says alcohol's effect on your blood sugar, vessels, stomach lining, and inflammatory responses may all be contributors to your hangover. Others, according to Adam Rogers at Wired, say the key to unlocking how alcohol affects our bodies might actually be a neurotransmitter. 

Adding to the confusion is that a hangover is largely subjective, not only in definition but in effect: While I (a former career bartender) may be able to go several rounds of cocktails and beers, followed by shots, and feel right as rain in the morning, my drinking buddy who's gone toe-to-toe with me might wake up still worse for wear. A night of tequila shots leads to my swift downfall, while a friend can practically pirouette out of bed the following day.

So, while the art of hangover avoidance may be an imperfect one—truly, the only reliable way to prevent one is to nix the hooch altogether—there is one group that seems well on its way to cracking the code: bartenders. Ahead, we've gleaned their tips and tricks for avoiding those next-day spins, migraines, and aches and pains.