Serious Eats: Drinks
Eyewitness Booze Investigation: Mercy Hangover Prevention Drink
In late fall of 2008, my overseer at one of the filthy and rich companies for which I write fibs gave me a bottle of Jameson 18-Year-Old Limited Reserve. I wrote my benefactor a sincere and heartfelt thank-you Post-It and squirreled the bottle away for a special occasion, and then I realized that getting a free bottle of high-end whiskey is pretty special and oh did I have myself an occasion. Then it was Christmas for the next six weeks and then it was New Year's, and by the time I got around to checking my email in the 15-minute break between the Super Bowl and St. Patrick's Day, I was no longer that company's favorite freelancer. It happens.
But I managed to worm my way back into their good-enough graces when the economy died and they laid off all the real employees, so I wasn't entirely surprised when I got a holiday card from them in late fall of 2009. Walking back from the mailbox, I was excited but confused, for I couldn't imagine how they managed to cram a bottle of whiskey into a greeting card envelope. But I'd learned not to doubt the ingenuity of these biotech operations, and furthermore, mine is not to wonder why, mine is to drink free whiskey, so I fetched my best shot mug and tore into the envelope to reveal...a Starbucks gift card?
After composing a polite if subdued thank-you Post-It in which I gently reminded them that I was their cherished and cheap marketing copywriter, not their paper boy or their preschool teacher, dammit!, I calmed down and realized that with the economy still dead, I was lucky to have the work and double lucky to get a few free cups of coffee.
I went to Starbucks early the next afternoon for a little something to tamp down my rum and get me ready for a long day of television. When the guy swiped my gift card, I noticed that the remaining balance was $97, and I was outraged. Those bastards weren't cutting costs, they were spitting in my face! Look, I'm not high maintenance, or an alcoholic. I don't demand $100 bottles of booze from everyone who crosses my path. But if you're going to spend $100 on me, well then, yes, I demand a $100 bottle of booze. Let's be reasonable.
I don't really like Starbucks coffee, so I blew the gift card on turkey sandwiches and newspapers, and when the fake money was gone, I realized I'd developed an expensive dependence on the Sunday New York Times. I naturally just started charging the paper to the evil corporation that'd gotten me hooked, but that only solved half of the problem. In addition to paying for the Sunday paper, I needed to find a way to beat back Saturday night's hangover. For the first time in my life, I found myself wanting to be in full possession of my faculties for a couple hours on Sunday morning before I got back to the grind.
I used to sweat out my Sunday morning demons in the disgusting sauna at the YMCA, but my preferred Y was 200 miles away in that formative winter of 2009-2010, and now that I've moved back to the neighborhood, I find that it's closed on Sundays. I've tried most other popular hangover remedies, but none of them work for me. I tend to drink so assertively on Saturday nights that no amount of water, caffeine, sleep, pills, or McMuffins can unclog the filter in time for me to get the paper read and comprehended before brunch.
Ah, brunch. By which I mean, ah, socially sanctioned daytime drinking. That's really the only thing that gets me back straight: The first drink of the next day solves all my problems, at least until the third drink resurrects the old problems and tacks on a few new ones. But of course all that does is kick the hangover down the road a day, and all good benders must come to an end, so I'm forever on the lookout for a new magic hangover bullet.
A new little company in New York has started pushing an alleged hangover preventative called Mercy. It's a citrusy drink with tons of vitamins and no caffeine. They sent me a 6-pack and said that one 8.4-ounce can would stave off the next-day reckoning of 5 drinks.
It tastes pretty good, and I assume it's intended to be a vodka mixer. It's lemony and tingly and there's a light ginger taste that makes it feel downright healthy. It supplies a billion percent the recommendation daily dose of all sorts of B vitamins, and though I don't want to bore myself with the science, a cursory flip through their literature made it seem pretty legit. It's not all sugar and ginseng and bullshit—this was engineered with good intentions.
But alas, I gave it several whirls over the course of a couple weeks, and it is with a heavy head that I report it didn't work for me. I still think it has a place in the market, because some independent reviewers have had better luck with it, and it tastes good and has only 60 calories per can, and all the vitamins must be good for something, but they weren't good for lifting this man's fog.