The Hangover Cure Bartenders Swear By

April 21st 2017

Kyle Jaeger

"The effect on one’s insides, after a few seconds, is rather like that of throwing a cricket ball into an empty bath, and the resulting mild convulsions and cries of shock are well worth witnessing," the late English poet Kingsley Amis wrote. "But thereafter a comforting glow supervenes, and very often a marked turn for the better." 


Amis was remarking on the relief he experienced after consuming the German digestif Underberg — bitters that are meant to aid in digestion after a heavy meal. But the poet wasn't referring to its digestive properties; he was praising the drink's ability to treat symptoms of a hangover.

Underberg has been around for just over 170 years, but it's only recently been popularized in the U.S., primarily in cities with large German populations. The bitters consist of herbs extracted from 43 countries, stored for months in specialized barrels before they're ready to ship. Though the family behind the product has guarded the much of the elixirs' recipe, we can surmise that it gets some of it anti-hangover properties from certain ingredients, including gentiana, ginger, cinnamon, and anise


Those ingredients, which are the most pronounced notes in Underberg, are known to soothe stomach aches and reduce nausea. "If I don’t feel good in the morning, it’s the first thing I have," Nick Bennett, head bartender at the Manhattan watering hole Porchlight, told Bloomberg. "It’s great for hangovers — just a quick little something to settle the stomach."

But of course, hangovers involve more than just digestive issues. There's also the headache. How does Underberg address that symptom?


Well, Underberg is 44 percent alcohol. Health professions recommend that people suffering from a hangover avoid alcohol the next morning and stick to water and rest instead — but a shot of Underberg could mask headaches in the moment. So it's not a cure, so much as it resembles a classic "hair of the dog" solution.

Or, as writer and bartender, Andrew Bohrer surmised, perhaps slightly less eloquently than Amis, "Take a shot of Underberg in the AM after a rager and you’ll be ready to do it all over again."