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Bartender Basics: How to Cure Hiccups Like a Bartender

Animation by Eric DeFreitas

From serving cocktails called “tonics” to acting as neighborhood therapists and dispensers of anesthetic-by-the-glass, bartenders have often jokingly roleplayed the part of unqualified amateur doctors. While you should never accept actual medical advice from someone whose primary responsibilities include pouring shots rather than injecting them, there are a few areas where years of expertise has given bar professionals insight into DIY remedies.

The most useful? How to cure hiccups.

After testing many popular hiccup treatments (sipping ice water slowly, drinking from the opposite side of a glass, holding your breath), we’ve settled on three bar tricks that actually work. Here’s our completely unscientific assessment.

Method #1: Bitters and a lemon wedge

This is the old bartender standard, the hiccup cure equivalent of a Beatles song. The technique is simple: Take a thick lemon wedge and douse it with 6–8 dashes of Angostura bitters (alternatively, pour bitters into a small plate or saucer and allow the lemon wedge to soak in it for a few minutes). Take your bitters-saturated lemon wedge, and eat it as you would an orange, grapefruit or anything else that tastes better. Voilà, hiccups gone.

For some, it helps to sprinkle sugar over the bittered lemon to help it go down. However, in anecdotal experience, the better you make things taste the less a chance the cure will take hold, so we recommend forgoing the addition and suffering through the two-ingredient combination as is.