Man’s best friend might just be hair of the dog
There exists a cherished, old Southern breakfast recipe for which there are three primary ingredients: a bottle of bourbon, a large steak and a good dog. To prepare, toss the steak to the dog, then drink the bourbon. Everyone is happy, and it will hold you both until lunch.
This might be carrying an inherent tradition to an extreme, but no one can deny humankind, dogs and drinks have had a long history together. Dogs and men started a buddy relationship some 18,000-plus years ago. Booze and man found an affinity about 9,000 years afterward. It makes sense. After dogs had well proved themselves to be man’s best friend, man had to come up with something to toast the relationship.
In fact, man has been so grateful for his canine companions, he has given them the ultimate expression of honor: naming popular cocktails after them. For example, there’s the Bloodhound cocktail, a potent concoction made with sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and a generous pour of gin, all prettied up with crushed strawberries as garnish. The Bulldog cocktail originated with cherry-flavored brandy, gin and lime juice, but there have since followed an endless number of knockoffs, including the Bulldog Highball, the Bulldog Margarita and even the Mexican Bulldog, which is pretty much a Bulldog Margarita with tequila but with a full bottle of Corona beer added as a finale.
Not only do these make one feel like one is living the dog’s life, they cause one to bark when the doorbell rings.
There’s The Great Dane, a superior drink made with gin, cherry brandy, dry vermouth and kirsch. The Regal Beagle boasts vodka, honey, grapefruit juice and white wine, while the more demanding Pomeranian keeps it complicated with pomegranate vodka, more grapefruit juice and honey. It probably makes one yappy. The most well known dogs in a glass are the Salty Dog, made with vodka, grapefruit juice and served in glass with a salted rim, and the Greyhound, which is simply a Salty Dog without the salt.
Lovers of old films may find fun imbibing the Asta Collins, a vodka-based drink named after the famous canine actor in “The Thin Man” series of films with William Powell and Myrna Loy. The films were made just after the end of Prohibition and probably hold a record for the amount of alcohol consumed — usually martinis by the dozens — and the numbers of hangovers that followed.
And that raises the subject of the greatest contribution the best friend of man has ever given his over-imbibing, two-legged companion: the hangover cure.
Hello hair of the dog.
“Most people around here go for the standard Bloody Mary,” says James Venezia, manager at Boondoggle’s, 4106 NASA Parkway in El Lago — the place with a painting of a bulldog smoking a cigar on its sign. “They’ll do the trick. I would say the most unusual is the pickle shot.”
That, Venezia explains, is a shot of pickle juice — dill — with a shot of Jameson Irish whiskey.
“They swear it works. Don’t ask me why.”
There may be an equally interesting story in finding out who and under what conditions the pickle shot came to exist. There is actually no one hair of the dog recipe for this morning-after elixir, as the term simply implies drinking a dose of what brought one to the current circumstances to begin with.
It’s not exactly a tribute to the dog, either. European and English folklore made the claim that if a person were bitten by a rabid dog, a cure could be had by packing the wound with some hairs of the dog’s tail. One can assume the fatality rate of people trying to yank hairs off the tails of rabid dogs did not give much opportunity for studying the effectiveness of packing a wound with said hair.
But even as far back as Hippocrates, there was a Latin phrase that translates to “like cures like,” which is the same theory of fighting rabies using something from the source. This theory did eventually come to include the effects of too much drink with dog becoming the code word for alcohol. Said one written hangover cure printed in the 19th century: “If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.” Note, the dog is no longer being blamed for doing the biting.
During Prohibition in the United States and thereafter, some of the finest hotels in the country could quietly produce a morning-after cocktail known as a Corpse Reviver. There are a few essential ingredients that most all hair of the dog recipes demand. Fruit or vegetable juice is a must. Raw eggs are quite common, as it is breakfast, after all. The whites are whipped to be used as a fizz and the yolks doctored with spices to be gulped whole.
One might recall Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret,” whose hair of the dog Prairie Oysters contained one raw egg, brandy and Worcestershire sauce gulped from a toothpaste cup to add a peppermint flavor.
Fresh vegetables — think celery in your Bloody Mary — and fruit help the guilt of drinking before noon.
“Bloody Marys have gone crazy,” said Alicia Andrade, head bartender at Chasin’ Tails Sports Bar, 2402 Bay Area Blvd. in the Clear Lake area. “People are making them with a whole meal packed into them. We do get a lot of requests for them, though. Sundays around here are known as Bloody Sundays.”
OK, but with a name like Chasin’ Tails, this place has to be a hair of the dog natural.
“A lot of our customers say a real hangover calls for a Michelada,” Andrade said. “That’s like a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka. It’s usually Corona. But if it’s a serious cure they need, we fix a Vegas Bomb.”
And here’s just why Chasin’ Tails is called Chasin’ Tails.
“People come in and say ‘I’m wiped. I have no energy. I need something fast,’ Andrade said. “We fix them the Vegas Bomb, which is a shot of Crown Royal, Malibu Rum and peach schnapps topped off with Red Bull.”
What happens in Vegas may not stay down in Vegas.
So what kind of booze is called for in hair of the dog? Well, in a tight script, the morning hair of the dog should have what got you in this predicament to begin with. Some people, however, swear the cure comes faster with alcohol that contains a lot of herbs, spices and sugar, like brandy or other liqueurs. The truth is, if there’s any truth in this at all, any liquor will do.
To give credit where hangovers are concerned, the hair of the dog has some medical backing. One theory is that hangover pain and discomfort is the body’s reaction to chemical changes that have come about because of a large intake of alcohol and subsequent withdrawal as the alcohol dissipates. Over indulging also brings about low blood sugar in some people, which prompts the pain, dizziness and nausea associated with a hangover. A hair of the dog, with a small amount of alcohol, temporarily stabilizes all that and gives the body more time to recover without the pain.
The question of whether the hair of the dog is a cure or just a delay goes unanswered. Some contend if you sleep with dogs, you get heaves.
The Vegas Bomb
Courtesy of Chasin’ Tails Sports Bar
.25 ounces Crown Royal Canadian Whisky
.25 ounces Malibu Rum
.25 ounces Peach schnapps
1 ounce Red Bull energy drink
Pour the first three ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a glass. Top with the Red Bull. Drink at once.
(For some splash, you can drop a shot glass of Crown and Peach Schnapps in glass of Red Bull.)