Playboy recently shared its colorful history of correspondence with gonzo legend Hunter S. Thompson. Amongst the letters and other notes in the collection was a wild cure for a hangover that suits the over the top writer’s uninhibited style. The note reads:
P.S. — inre: Oui’s request for “my hangover cure” — it’s 12 amyl nitrites (one box), in conjunction with as many beers as necessary. OK H
While the idea of poppers and beer soothing your sorry head might not be the right cure for you, fear not — we’ve uncovered 12 other hangover remedies from famous booze hounds. With the holidays right around the corner, we figured you could use a little help. Click through to find out what Hemingway, Faulkner, and other big drinkers suggested after an evening of overindulgence.
Literary flapper celeb Zelda Fitzgerald apparently liked to start her boozing around eleven in the morning. Vodka and lemonade were her best friends, accompanying the novelist for a lazy day of reading and writing, and eventually to her ballet studio where she would diligently exercise. By evening, she was out on the town with a garter flask concealed beneath her dress and not a care in the world. Zelda’s hangover cure was a morning swim, before mixing her drinks and repeating the entire routine all over again.
The Sound and the Fury writer William Faulkner was known for going on a bender after completing a writing project. One alcoholic binge even caused the author to badly burn himself on a radiator. Despite his sometimes struggles with the bottle, Faulkner threw himself into his work and even used it as a way to overcome a hangover. During a 1957 reading, he explained:
“I think that — that anyone, the painter, the musician, the writer works in a — a kind of an— an insane fury. He’s demon-driven. He can get up feeling rotten, with a hangover, or with — with actual pain, and — and if he gets to work, the first thing he knows, he don’t remember that pain, that hangover — he’s too busy.”
A Clockwork Orange writer Anthony Burgess liked to beat his hangovers to the finish line with a homemade cocktail that rarely left him feeling weary — and the heavy-drinking Englishman did know a thing or two about morning after headaches. He drank a concoction known as Hangman’s Blood. “Into a pint glass, doubles of the following are poured: gin, whisky, rum, port and brandy. A small bottle of stout is added and the whole topped up with Champagne … It tastes very smooth, induces a somewhat metaphysical elation, and rarely leaves a hangover,” he instructed.
Party girl screen star Tallulah Bankhead wasn’t shy about her boozy antics — perhaps because she had other vices to entertain herself with apart from drink. The actress revealed her hangover remedy of choice in her autobiography where she describes the champagne cocktail that cures what ails her.
“Wracked with a hangover I do my muttering over a Black Velvet, a union of champagne and stout. Don’t be swindled into believing there’s any cure for a hangover. I’ve tried them all: iced tomatoes, hot clam juice, brandy peaches. Like the common cold it defies solution. Time alone can say it. The hair of the dog? That way lies folly. It’s as logical as trying to put out a fire with applications of kerosene. ”
Legendary drinker W.C. Fields made his love of alcohol part of his comedic shtick. We know the funnyman was not fond of Bromo Seltzer for a hangover, as he once told a waiter that he couldn’t stand the noise. Fields has also suggested that to cure a hangover, one should just have another drink — but stronger than last night’s. The star’s movie The Bank Dick provides another clue for a fix. The actor reveals a queasy-sounding solution to hungover bank examiner J. Pinkerton Snoopington in the film: a breaded veal cutlet with tomato sauce; a chocolate éclair for dessert; liver and bacon; or 2 pickled eggs and some castor oil; or Hungarian Goulash and a coconut custard pie. It’s also said Fields enjoyed a martini the morning after.
Three Hemingway hangover cures have made the rounds, two of which involve … more liquor! The Sun Also Rises novelist is said to have relied on the stomach turning combination of tomato juice and beer. We’re more apt to believe the other recipes since one involves a big weakness of the author’s — absinthe — and the manly libation, gin.
Death in the Afternoon — named after his 1932 bullfighting tale — involves an absinthe and champagne blend. Hemingway described how to mix the hangover helper, which requires a healthy dose to take effect. “Pour 1 jigger of absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
Cocktail aficionado, Seamus Harris, has explained Hemingway’s Death in the Gulf Stream.
“Take a tall thin water tumbler and fill it with finely cracked ice. Lace this broken debris with 4 good purple dashes of Angostura, add the juice and crushed peel of 1 green lime, and fill glass almost full with Holland gin … No sugar, no fancying. It’s strong, it’s bitter — but so is English ale strong and bitter, in many cases. We don’t add sugar to ale, and we don’t need sugar in a Death in the Gulf Stream — or at least not more than 1 tsp. Its tartness and its bitterness are its chief charm. It is reviving and refreshing; cools the blood and inspires renewed interest in food, companions and life.”
Tough guy and terrifying screen baddie Robert Mitchum could certainly hold his liquor. He made friends with hard-drinking crooner Frank Sinatra, who was indebted to the Night of the Hunter actor for a trusted alcohol antidote, dubbed by Mitchum as Mother’s Milk. The Ramos Gin Fizz is a mix of gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water, and soda water. It seemed to work for Sinatra, who took to calling Mitchum “mother” for years to come and supposedly even mailed him a card every Mother’s Day in thanks. The Ramos Gin Fizz was also said to be a fave of Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
Judy Garland saw her share of rainbows while hitting the bottle, but her hangover cure became another addiction for the Wizard of Oz actress. Old Hollywood was fond of feeding their stars speed as a way to keep them thin and perky for extended shoots, or to help revive them after a long night (or day) of drinking.
It’s said that Beat boozer William Burroughs helped LSD guru Timothy Leary survive after a late ’80s night of raucous merriment with methadone. It makes sense that the writer might prescribe the analgesic drug for a hangover since he remained on a methadone program in his later years trying to kick his junk habit (kind of).
The original celebutante, Brenda Frazier had a dedicated “hangover bar” (one of four bars in total) at her famous 1938 coming out party at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City. (The fancy pants shindig actually won her a spot on Life magazine’s cover.) The posh hotel’s head banquet man Adolphe Jeantet invented the cure that partygoers gobbled up like gangbusters. A bottle of chilled Coca-Cola was shaken and then squirted into a glass of cold milk. One sip and a nap was said to make you right as rain.
English comic novelist and champion drinker Kingsley Amis has described the hangover as something straight out of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. For Amis, the morning after is often a strange “metaphysical moment. “When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover … ” he writes. “You have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.” Amis has recommended a mixture of Bovril — a salty meat extract — and vodka (of course) to set you back on the right path.