Not knowing (or ignoring) your limits when it comes to alcohol comes at a steep price, particularly when you’re far from your home turf and your go-to hangover remedies. Ever been on a walking tour of Rome the morning after a night out? We don’t recommend it—the cobblestones aren’t hangover-friendly in the least. Still, if you want to drink without suffering the consequences on your travels, consider trying out one of these European hangover cures on your next trip.
Feeling a little queasy from too much vodka or aquavit? Fins and Russians believe that getting naked and sweating out your toxins in the sauna could hold the key to full recovery. That said, keep in mind that too much sauna-ing after heavy drinking could cause a serious drop in blood pressure (which could involve fainting in the nude).
Could fish be the answer to your post-bender prayers? In German, a hangover is known as a Katzenjammer, literally the wailing of cats, and is appropriately treated with a Katerfrühstück or a tomcat’s snack of raw pickled herring wrapped around a gherkin and a raw onion. In Belgium, the herring is made into a salad, and in the Netherlands the herring is served on a bun. By far the toughest to swallow, not to mention to chew, is the Norwegian remedy, lutefisk, which is whitefish dried with lye.
Depending on where you find yourself the morning after, a full breakfast typically includes baked beans, roasted tomatoes, sausages, bacon, and bread. If you’re in a hurry, skip the full and go for another traditional hangover cure, the bacon sandwich, instead. And if you really can’t force a morsel past your lips, get rehydrated like a local by sipping Irn Bru, Scotland’s bright orange national soft drink. It bears mentioning that all of the above are massive improvements on the traditional Celtic remedies of dragging the drunken party to be buried up to the neck in wet sand or thrown into the frigid waters of the ocean to swim.
Dizzy and weak after a too many shots of grappa? Maybe you should experiment with unusual animal parts. In Sicily, there’s the traditional remedy of pizzle, which is dried bull penis (the texture resembles jerky) thought to restore your strength after a few too many drinks. Or you could skip it for the understandably more popular modern Italian option the morning after a bender—an espresso. In Iceland, some locals swear by sheep’s head terrine called sviðasulta, but less adventurous eaters may prefer to head to one of the country’s famous hot springs instead.
There’s nothing quite like a massive serving of stew to keep the alcohol from settling into your blood and seeping through the holes in your stomach. Or at least that’s the thinking in Austria and France. In Austria, locals spoon up a generous serving of meaty goulash before heading to bed. The French, on the other hand, prefer a next-day cassoulet, a hearty traditional dish made of white beans, sausages, meat, and goose or duck fat. For minor alcoholic offenses, French onion soup will do.
In Spain, proper hangover treatment begins with prevention. As locals will attest, you should always eat while you drink, and deep-fried calamari rings, croquettes, and other typical tapas are the key to drinking all evening without getting wasted. After a night out, most Spanish folk turn to churrerias for churros or fries, whereas Croatians prefer their post-drinking grease in baked goods. The lipids in a Croatian burek—a pastry stuffed with meat and cheese—are thought to ease hangover symptoms. And while an obscure Hungarian remedy advises drinking brandy sprinkled with sparrow droppings, most locals would agree that you’re much better off buying a lángos (fried bread rubbed in garlic) from a street vendor.
Whether you call it ciorba de burta (Romania), or patsas (Greece), tripe, most often made into soup or stew, is a common hangover remedy across Eastern Europe and Balkan countries. In Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria, cow tripe is made into a hearty soup with vegetables. Bulgarians like to slurp it down with a cold beer the next day, whereas Greeks prefer to get it into their bellies before turning in for the night (at 5 or 6 a.m.) to prevent the hangover ever happening. In Turkey, in addition to a soup made from veal tripe, locals also prepare lamb or goat intestines wrapped around spiced organ meat.
Rehydrate post-binge with pickle juice
Poland and parts of Eastern Europe
A slug of “juice” from a jar of pickles or sauerkraut is a popular remedy in Poland and around Eastern Europe. In Czech Republic, gherkins are served with pickled sausages called drowned men or utopenci. Pickle juice is so popular as a hangover remedy among Russians that they came out with a canned and carbonated version called Rassol. In Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania, some folks prefer to take their pickle juice infusion in soup form. Most versions are pretty rich—think cured meats, sausages, cabbage, and a dollop of sour cream on top.