Hair of the Dog Cocktail / Photo by Ali Redmond
Have you ever heard the expression “hair of the dog that bit you”? Don’t feel bad if you’re a bit hazy on the subject. There’s actually a ton of confusion surrounding the drink to which the phrase refers—what it is, where it comes from and, above all, if it actually works.
In short, a “hair of the dog” beverage is meant to be the ultimate hangover cure, helping drinkers kick hangover symptoms acquired after a night of hard partying. By definition, it must contain alcohol. While the idea of consuming more booze to negate the effects of consuming too much of it may seem contrary, some swear by its effectiveness.
While a few go-to drinks have historically been regarded as “hair of the dog,” there’s plenty of debate on the subject. We’ve settled on our own recipe below, but first, let’s discuss all of the most pressing questions about this enigmatic drink.
What Is a “Hair of the Dog” Drink?
As previously stated, Hair of the Dog is an alcoholic drink intended to be consumed after a night of going too hard—meaning that, in short, it’s meant to cure a hangover. The purpose of consuming more alcohol is not to re-intoxicate, but rather to cure symptoms like nausea, tiredness, headache and dehydration.
Where Does the Name “Hair of the Dog” Come From?
The expression “hair of the dog” is a shortened version of the expression “hair of the dog that bit you.” Think about it this way: If the boozy culprit behind a nasty hangover is the “dog,” the supposed cure is the “hair” of that dog. Get it?
But the beverage may have a more literal origin story. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the drink’s name is taken from “the former belief that such a hair was an efficacious remedy against the bite of a mad dog.” In her new book Bizarre Medicine, author Ruth Clifford Eng suggests that this belief may go back to ancient times. At any rate, the phrase’s first recorded appearance in reference to an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover dates to 1546.
Is Hair of the Dog a Hangover Drink?
In theory, yes! Hair of the Dog is a drink meant to cure hangovers—though the results may vary from person to person.
Will Hair of the Dog Actually Cure My Hangover?
Unfortunately, most claims swirling around Hair of the Dog cocktails may be too good to be true.
“There’s no scientific evidence that having an alcoholic drink will cure a hangover,” said Laura Veach, Ph.D., the director of screening, counseling intervention services and training at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Department of Surgery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “It will, at best, postpone one.”
A hangover, of course, refers to the constellation of symptoms experienced when a person’s blood contains an elevated concentration of alcohol. They may include headache, thirst, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and general unhappiness. These symptoms may hit full tilt when a person’s blood-alcohol level bottoms out at zero.
“Taking a drink the morning after may temporarily make you feel better because you’re putting alcohol back into the system,” said Veach. “But it doesn’t cure the hangover; it just sort of tricks you by masking the symptoms. They’re going to show up eventually.”
What’s the Best Hair of the Dog Drink Out There?
The efficacy of these drinks is debatable, but hey, the placebo effect is as good a cure as any. With that in mind, there are quite a few drinks considered by many to be Hair of the Dog cocktails, including mimosas, micheladas, Bloody Mary cocktails and even simple light beers.
We, however, have settled on a creamy number that marries fiery whiskey and cooling half-and-half, plus a hit of honey to bring it all together. Think of it as the unholy marriage of an ice-cold glass of milk for breakfast and the remains of last night’s nightcap.
How To Make A Hair of the Dog Cocktail
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all ingredients.
Shake and strain into a rocks or tulip glass, no garnish necessary.