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 /

Book Review: The Quick-Fix Hangover Detox

Subtitled “99 Ways to Feel 100 Times Better,” this slim tome (just 99 pages long including the index) is a straightforward list of recipes and advice for correcting the worst part of drinking: the hangover.

The advice is split into three sections – before, during, and after you drink – and the advice varies from simple to obtuse. Lots of this stuff you already know: Drink lots of water. Take B vitamins. Don’t drink too much.

Some of the advice will likely be new to you: Drink a mixture of blended lettuce, broccoli, and spinach. Eat celery to help with nausea. Gin and tonic is a depressant.

Still more of the advice is contrary to what you probably think you know: Don’t take pain relievers in the morning. Caffeine is bad for hangovers.

Even more of the advice you can safely dismiss: Use crystals to help recovery the next day.

Some of the advice isn’t hangover advice at all: Drinking is fattening.

There’s no telling how much of this information is legit, but it mostly sounds OK and the bulk of it comes down to not drinking too much and making sure you eat lots of fruit and vegetables during your recovery. Good advice, I suppose, provided you’ve read this tome and stocked up well before that big night out gets underway.

C / $10 / [BUY IT HERE]

Science: Oxygenated Booze = No Hangover

Some people swear by the “don’t mix alcohols” or “only clear alcohols” technique in their quest to avoid a hangover. Now scientists say they have a new method for limiting the negative effects of alcohol consumption: Imbuing alcohol with oxygen bubbles.

To wit:

The drinks with the added oxygen content sobered people up 20-30 minutes faster, under the influence of the rather potent alcohol they used for the trials. 20% alcohol is around the strength of fortified wine, soju, or a very strong mixed drink, so while shaving a half hour off your drunken tomfoolery might not seem a great deal, when you’re trying to fall asleep at night and combating the spins, you’ll appreciate it.

The researchers also asked what would change if someone were to drink multiple oxygen-enriched drinks over the course of the night. Would there be a cumulative effect? Again, the answer was yes: People who drank oxygenated booze had less severe and fewer hangovers than people who drank the non-fizzy stuff.

Remember, we’re talking about oxygen bubbles, not CO2, which is what most carbonation is composed of, so don’t go guzzling Jack and Coke and assume you’ll be all well in the morning.

Review: ResQwater

ResQwater is a clear beverage in a single-serve bottle, meant to be consumed “before, during, or after” a hangover… though the name would certainly imply it’s here to rescue you once you’ve already been struck down.

Sweet and a little syrupy, it’s fortified with N-acetyl L-cysteine, fructose, prickly pear juice, vitamins B1, B6, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium, all in a water base. It’s a rather simple recipe for what is usually a complicated category, but hey, maybe simple actually works better in this case.

ResQwater’s problem is not so much its taste — the fructose used as a sweetener is a little jarring, but palatable, and the “natural apricot tea flavor” is recognizable only through the tiny type on the label — but rather its consistency. It’s a lot thicker than it looks, syrupy and almost a little slimy in its character. That worked against me this morning when, feeling less than 100 percent, I found ResQwater was fine at first but soon became difficult to drink. Ultimately I gave up after finishing only half the 16 oz. bottle.

Yet maybe 8 ounces is all it takes. I wouldn’t say I had a crushing hangover this morning, but I was certainly operating at less than full strength. An hour later, I was feeling fine. Go figure.

B- / $14 for four 16-oz. bottles /


Review: Go Time Hangover Relief

Go Time is a rarity in hangover relief products: You take it the morning after, rather than while you’re drinking or before you go to bed — when no one ever remembers to take these things. No, Go Time is intended for use when you’re suffering at rock bottom.

It also benefits from being not a drink you have to choke down but a pill, a kind of scary-looking blue capsule that, when opened, is filled with what looks like sawdust. Just swallow one down with some water (take two for “extreme” hangovers, we’re told) and that’s all it takes.

Had a few drinks last night and this morning was decidedly sluggish. Popped a Go Time and, you know, I did feel better, and have been alert and fine all day (though nine hours later I’m feeling a bit of a crash coming on). What to credit in Go Time for this? It’s full of upteen ingredients, only a few of which I know what they are: vitamins C, B1, riboflavin, B6, B12, dextrose, glutamic acid, succinic acid, cinchona bark, guava leaf extract, fumaric acid, magnesium trisilicate, L-cystein, caffeine (less than a cup of coffee, they say), and alpha lipoic acid. That’s a lot of acid, but hey, I’m feeling pretty good.

A- / $3 per pack of two capsules /

go time hangover

Preemptive Apology

For all whom I might offend tonight, I offer a preemptive apology in the style of these high-society Chinese gentlemen… from the year 856.

Click through for the elaborate original. Here it is translated…

Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame.

Review: THC The Hangover Cure

THC and WaterTHC The Hangover Cure — yes, the name is completely coincidental — comes in powder form, contained in a long tube. You mix it with water — 12 to 16 oz. — and guzzle it down after “a night of debauchery” and before bed.

What’s inside? A whole bunch of stuff: Supersized doses of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, panothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, chromium, sodium, potassium, l-cysteine, l-glutamine, and that age-old additive, milk thistle extract.

Sounds good, but consuming THC is tricky at the end of a night. A pint of chalky, vaguely Hawaiian Punch-flavored water is a lot to ask of someone with four or five drinks in him, and getting this whole dose down before bed wasn’t the easiest accomplishment of my night.

As for the effectiveness? It didn’t feel like THC did much for me after a long night at the Rickhouse — I experienced difficult sleep and had a nagging headache the next day. But maybe it would have been even worse had I not had the THC? Oh man, God help me.

B- / $20 for 6 doses /

thc the hangover cure

Review: Pretoxx Alcohol Supplement

What do I like the most about Pretoxx? It comes in pill form, so no need to choke back some nasty liquid in the guise of hangover prevention.

Pretoxx is pretty simple stuff. One pill has 600mg of Vitamin C, 100mg of Vitamin B-1, and 200mg of NAC. That’s it. Basically, it’s vitamins, which you’re supposed to take to the tune of one pill per every two drinks, before you head out to the bar.

I tried it as directed, generally felt fine the next day after a long night of drinking… though quite tired. Hard to know without clinical tests one way or the other… but I can say it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t taste like crap, so I can’t really complain.

B+ / $20 for 60 tablets /

pretoxx hangover supplement

Review: Code Blue Recovery Drink

Billed as “the world’s first complete recovery drink,” Code Blue launched earlier this year with the goal of pre-de-hangover-izing the youth of America. (As with most modern hangover remedies, the idea is to drink this stuff after drinking alcohol — or during, or even before — and you’ll feel fine the next day.) And I say youth because it’s unlikely a grown man would chug a bottle of this stuff the before bedtime. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Let’s start with the blue. The bottle you see is opaque, but it really needn’t be: Code Blue is the color of Windex, tinged darker perhaps with a bit of cobalt blue tempera paint.

Next there’s the taste. It’s fortunately not like Windex at all, but I’m struggling to describe it properly. Lots of sweetener (agave nectar) is the key component, with a vague, fruit-and-chemical aftertaste. Imagine Gatorade watered down then cut with vegetable oil and you’ll have an idea of what Code Blue tastes like. Take the company’s advice and drink it ice cold — preferably in a glass and on ice, as the bottle warms up quickly. When Code Blue rises past fridge temperature it loses its modest charms.

The ingredient list is full of healthy-sounding curiosities: reduced glutathione (a big antioxidant we’re told), prickly pear juice (promotes liver function), and a host of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes (a proprietary blend). A 12-oz. bottle has no caffeine and just 60 calories. Oh, and I should point out that it’s not carbonated.

The big question, of course, is how well it works. On this point I should give Code Blue props. It isn’t easy to get a whole bottle down, but I found it did indeed help hangover symptoms — at least modestly — when consumed either at the end of the night or the next day. Of course it’s hard to say whether a glass of water and an Advil would have done the job just as well, but considering that Code Blue might actually be healthy to drink, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

B- / $3.49 per 12-oz. bottle /


Review: XyliMelts

What’s the worst part of a hangover? The headache? The upset stomach? The hatred toward your fellow man?

For some, it’s the dry mouth: No matter how much water you drink, that cottonmouth comes back in minutes, keeping you awake all night and aware of all the other symptoms.

Enter XyliMelts, a bizarre solution but one that merits attention: XyliMelts inlcude 500mg of xylitol, an “oral lubricant” and natural sweetener which stimulates saliva creation. To use it, you pop a XyliMelt in your mouth, and once you have it situated between the cheek and gum for 30 seconds, an adhesive side sticks to your gums and keeps the spit production going for anywhere between 1 and 6 hours.

You can use it during the day if your mouth is abnormally dry, but Drinkhacker readers will probably be more interested in the nocturnal application: That’s right, because XyliMelt sticks to your gums, you can leave it in overnight (technically you’re supposed to use two for a full night’s sleep, but I did fairly well with just one).

I tried it last night after Whiskeys of the World — when I knew I’d need it — and the results were kind of shocking: It worked. Yes, it’s a little disconcerting to try to sleep with a tablet slowly dissolving in your mouth, but the constant lubrication is more than worth the oddity, which you get used to in 30 minutes or so. The taste is fine, too: Lightly minty and moderately sweet. (There’s also a “plain” version.)

Given the scary warning that “some bacteria may evolve a resistance to xylitol,” this may not be something you’ll want to use every single day… but to ease the pain from the occasional bender, XyliMelts might be an excellent part of your arsenal. At 12 bucks for 80 tablets, it’s a great deal too.

A- / $12 for 80 tablets /


Review: Drinkin’ Mate Hangover Defense

There’s good news and bad news about Drinkin’ Mate, another entry into the growing category of hangover prevention remedies.

First the good: Compared to the field, Drinkin’ Mate is the best-tasting hangover preventer around. It’s an effervescent pill (like an Alka-Seltzer). Just drop it in a few ounces of water, and you get a fizzy, fruity drink that goes down pretty quickly and painlessly. Made primarily from guava leaf extract, it’s a bit tropical and a lot berry-like (the only version seems to be “wild berry flavor”), very sweet (thanks to shots of sorbitol and sucralose). Unlike some of those nasty, syrupy hangover cures, you won’t have to choke this one down before you go out. (The company also says you can take it after drinking to avoid a hangover.)

Now the bad news: For me, Drinkin’ Mate did absolutely nothing to prevent a hangover. The one I’ve been nursing today is the outright worst in recent memory, which makes me wonder how effective guava leaf could possibly be at fighting off the headache from a half-dozen glasses of whiskey and wine. The only other real active ingredient here is sodium bicarbonate, pretty tame stuff that would have no hope against a major alco-binge, at least it didn’t for me.

As always, these remedies are often a shot in the dark, and some work for some drinkers and not at all for others. Your mileage may vary, but while I didn’t get any benefit from Drinkin’ Mate, at least the act of drinking Drinkin’ Mate didn’t make me want to throw up on the spot.

C / $24 for 12 tablets /