Review: Blowfish for Hangovers

How refreshing! Blowfish contains no goji berry. No acai. No kudzu. No N-Acetyl L-Cysteine. None of that new age stuff at all.

Instead it has just two, old-school ingredients: Aspirin (500mg) and caffeine (60mg), delivered in an effervescent tablet.

Complicated? No, but it’s a recipe that works pretty well. I’m not sure what the advantage of dissolving a tablet into a pint of water, leaving it mildly fizzy, chalky, and lemon-limey is… but the taste is harmless enough to at least get you through most of a glass over the course of a half-hour. And, like I said, it’s reasonably effective at getting the job done.

That said, it’s tough to justify shelling out three bucks for what amounts to one tablet of Excedrin, just because it fizzes up like Alka-Seltzer. Still, if you find this delivery mechanism more appealing than a boring old tablet, well, knock yourself out.

B / $3 per dose /

Review: Last Round Hangover Support

Promoted heavily alongside The Hangover Part II, Last Round is another entry into the long line of “shots” meant to make tomorrow, as they say, a better day.

The ingredients are curious: Kudzu, stevia, green tea, ginkgo, and Ural licorice extracts. No crazy chemicals. Not even any B or C vitamins, staples of the hangover cure trade.

The taste is pleasant and mild, a bit like warm, flat cola drink, plus a little cinnamon and clearly a licorice kick. The extra-large size — 2.4 oz. vs. the usual 2 oz. of these things — isn’t exactly welcome. If they could squeeze this stuff into a 1 oz. shot I’m sure we’d all be much happier trying to down them.

As it were, I drank half a bottle after a couple of drinks and before I went to bed. I am not exaggerating when I say that was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in over a year. Woke up refreshed and feeling amazing. And that was after just half a bottle!

Your mileage may vary if you’ve really overdone it — or maybe I was just lucky that one night. One thing’s for sure, though, I’m going to give this one another try. Kudzu! Who knew?

A- / $18 for six 2.4-oz. vials /

Review: Security Feel Better Anti-Hangover Drink

The problem, as I’ve said here on the blog many times, with hangover prevention drinks is that they often taste so bad the hangover is actually preferable. That and they don’t really work.

Security Feel Better (yes, that’s the name) wins on both fronts: It tastes good, and it seems to be effective at making the morning after more of a success.

This small, shot-sized drink comes not in a plastic vial but a glass bottle, cuing you (hopefully) to its more upscale intentions. It’s been on sale internationally for years, and now it comes to us. The list of ingredients is very short and includes mostly plant and herb extracts: Artichoke, angelica root, lemon (vitamin C), fructose, and pear flavoring.

That’s it. Without a load of wacky chemicals, the taste is easygoing and mild. Slightly sweet, with a distinct pear flavor, and not overly syrupy. Really quite pleasant to drink, with no grimacing. Consumed before bedtime, it isn’t something you have to remember to take before you go out.

Effectiveness: No complaints. Though, as always, I consume alcohol in moderation, I woke up refreshed and ready to face a long day of packing and moving boxes, and I never felt remotely unable to complete the job. Is Security Feel Better to thank? I’m no scientist, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Beware the price tag, though.

A- / $11 (pack of two 2 oz. bottles) / [BUY IT HERE]


Review: Hangover Gone (aka Hang On)

I’m not saying I had a hangover, I’m just saying that perhaps the words “another bottle of Slovenian* wine” aren’t necessarily a good idea.

Another shot-based hangover remedy, Hangover Gone — “Powered by Cysteine” — claims to cure your hangover in “three phases.” First it helps to metabolize acetaldehyde, “alcohol’s main and most toxic byproduct.” Second it uses glucose to “provide the extra fuel needed for cellular metabolization.” And third it uses a blend of herbs and vitamins — milk thistle, artichoke, goji berry, and ginger extract, plus Vitamins, C, E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folate, B12, Pantothenic Acid, and more — to “rid the body of harmful toxins.”

The delivery vehicle is the now-well-known 2 ounce shot, served at room temperature. The taste is unpalatable in the extreme, a dark (sour, it says) cherry cough syrup sweetened to within an inch of its life. I am baffled by this approach to hangover remedies: When you’re not feeling so great after a night out, the last thing I want to do is put an even worse taste in my mouth.

Sadly, Hangover Gone didn’t do much for my post-Eastern-bloc-originated wine flu. It wasn’t until I took some Advil that the situation started to improve but, as is always the case with products like this, individual mileage will likely vary considerably. For me, though, Hangover Gone just didn’t live up to its goals. Or its name.

* It could have been Estonian. I keep getting that wrong.

D / $3 per 2 oz. shot /

Review: PreToxx Hangover Remedy

PreToxx — now reformulated and repackaged since our 2009 review and featuring a capital T instead of a lowercase one — still has one great thing going for it: It’s a pill, so choking it down is easy.

Designed to be consumed before you drink, one PreToxx pill contains the following: Vitamins B1, B6, B12, and C, Prickly Pear Extract, Milk Thistle (these two are the new elements), and N-Acetyl L-Cysteine, a popular hangover remedy ingredient.

The directions indicate you should take two to four of these pills before you start drinking — and take one pill a day to “support a healthy liver.”

I tried PreToxx and found that generally I felt fine the next day, if a bit sluggish. The problem was more immediately after I took it. There’s no good way to explain it, but I felt weird while I was out. A little foggy in the head, with a funny taste in my mouth. I tried it twice with similar results each time.

Was this an allergy? A weird reaction to something in the supplement? Or something coincidental and unrelated? I’m not sure. Your mileage will certainly vary, but for me, the odd side effects outweighed any benefit received the following day.

C / $20 for 60 pills / [BUY IT HERE]

Review: Zaca Organic Hangover Patch

I’ve reviewed all manner of hangover remedy products in the last few years, but Zaca takes the cake for the strangest one of all: It’s a patch that you wear on your body (a la a nicotine patch) while you drink (and on into the next day), designed to combat the effects of alcohol without you having to swallow a thing.

File under “it’s so crazy, it just might work.”

The tiny mesh bandage is organic and all-natural, and the ingredients are as follows: Vitamin C, Lycopene, NAC, B1, Prickly Pear, B5, B3, Magnesium, Taurine, Lipoic Acid, and Milk Thistle, all in 1mg to 5mg portions. I can’t comment on how well any of these elements absorbs through the skin, but I will say that I was impressed with how well Zaca seemed to work. (Though with these kind of things, you never really know.)

I put the patch on an hour before going out for the evening, and when I got up in the morning I felt just fine. The only possible side effect I experienced was having to pee more than I normally might have had to.

The cool thing about Zaca is that you slap it on before you go out — when you might actually remember it. So many hangover products require drinking some nastily-flavored liquid, making the cure worse than the problem. Pills meant to be consumed while you’re drinking are also a problem: I don’t have a purse, where do I keep these things? Morning-after pills are fine… but by then the damage is done.

I was skeptical of Zaca at first, but it really does have all the hallmarks of a great idea: It’s as tasteless as humanly possible (since you don’t eat it), it prevents hangovers rather than remedies them, and it seems to actually work. It can even slip into your wallet… in case of emergency. Give it a whirl.

A / $20 for 6 patches /

Review: Spike Your Juice Homemade Booze Kit

I’ve seen some weird stuff in my day, but Spike Your Juice is pretty much the strangest of them all.

Put simply, Spike Your Juice is a system for turning ordinary fruit juice into good old-fashioned hooch. Inside the colorful box you’ll find a few little mystery packets. You pour the packets into an off-the-shelf 64-ounce bottle of fruit juice (no artificial sweeteners, no refrigerated juice — essentially that means cranberry or grape juice — and let ‘er rip. You stop up the bottle with an included airlock, and wait 48 hours. Presto, you’ve got booze.

OK, the mystery should be easy to solve. What’s in the little packet is yeast (plus a little extra sugar), and that yeast goes to work on all the sugar in the juice in relatively short order. It takes only a few hours for the juice to start bubbling and blurping a gray/purple scum into the airlock, and it’s clear Spike Your Juice is hard at work. The juice is said to reach a maximum of 14% alcohol, putting it on par with wine. That’s right folks, you’re making homemade pruno, sans the dirty socks and the trash bag.

What does the end result of Spike Your Juice taste like? It’s surprisingly fizzy on the tongue, and it has a clear alcohol bite. But it’s sweet — at least after the first two days (the company says it will become drier the longer you let it sit). At first, not unpleasant — like a really cheap red wine that’s been bottled by someone with dirty hands — and then the aftertaste gets you. Musty and funky, it’s got a kick that, as my aunt used to say, will bite you back.

I can still taste it.

Rating this one just does not make sense, as I can only see it being attempted out of morbid curiosity, a dare, or both. Supposedly hugely popular in Europe.

$10 for six packets (enough for 3 gallons of hooch) plus airlock /