Splitting headache? Fuzzy vision? Multiple trips driving the porcelain bus? We’ve all been there, suffering through the morning after the night before. But not every country subscribes to the classic hangover cure of a big breakfast, a strong coffee and a frantic scroll through your phone to make sure you didn’t drunkenly message your ex something that makes you want to disappear off the face of the earth. Tiger’s milk, ostrich omelettes, stomach-turning Mongolian cocktails that sound worse than any headache… the next time you’ve lost a battle with the bottle, try these 14 best hangover cures from around the world.
1. Poland — pickle juice
Anyone who’s ever guzzled a Gatorade to fight a hangover knows that electrolytes help rehydrate the body. And although it doesn’t taste quite as good, pickle juice does exactly the same thing. A shot of salty brine is an old Polish tactic, making good use of the shot glasses that turned you into a miserable hungover wreck in the first place.
2. Germany — pickled herrings
If there was a fermented fish flavoured rehydration drink then it would taste something like rollmops: electrolyte-loaded skewers of pickled herring, gherkins and onions that appear in any German Katerfrühstück (or ’hangover breakfast’). First-timers should sample this pungent dish before they tuck into it — no-one wants to see the herring swim around the toilet bowl when you can’t keep it down.
3. Japan — salted plums
A salty snack is the last thing you feel like sticking in your mouth when it feels as dry as the bottle of sake you emptied the night before, but that’s exactly how the Japanese cure their hangovers. Umeboshi — plums pickled in salt and green tea — are an ancient remedy said to aid digestion, boost energy levels, and combat nausea. Cheers to that.
4. Italy — bull penis
The morning after a stiff drink, wrap your lips around a stiff… never mind. The Sicilian specialty pizzle looks a lot like a Slim Jim or a thin cabanossi, but it’s made out of a bull’s private parts. The penis jerky — no pun intended — is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, making it the perfect antidote to a hangover. Better wash it down with a double espresso, though.
5. South Africa — ostrich omelette
Protein is one of the best ways to ease a hangover, so how about feasting on two dozen chicken eggs? That’s the size of one single ostrich egg — a dinosaur-sized monstrosity that weights 1.5kg and contains about as much liquid as two wine bottles, which is probably what got you into this mess. The only problem with this South African delicacy? Finding a frying pan big enough to cook it.
6. Peru — tiger’s milk
This one’s got nothing to do with lactating big cats, but everything to do with eating raw fish. Peruvians polish off ceviche — raw fish cooked in a citrus juice marinade — when they’re suffering a Pisco-induced hangover. The leftover lemony liquid known as leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, is legendary for having therapeutic powers. It’s also believed to be an aphrodisiac…
7. Puerto Rico — lemon under the armpit
Puerto Ricans also use lemon juice, but in a very different way to those frisky Peruvians. An old superstition claims that if you rub a slice of lemon under your drinking arm before your first sip, you won’t suffer dehydration. There’s no evidence that this works, of course, but at least your armpits will smell citrusy fresh.
8. Hungary — brandy and sparrow poo
In Hungary, expect your hair of the dog to come with poo of the bird. Head to a bar in Budapest (or just scoop out the newspaper at the bottom of a birdcage) for a nip of brandy topped off with sparrow droppings. This cure is as crappy as it sounds — the bird poo carries the risk of parasites, bacteria and diseases worse than any headache.
9. Russia — sauna
Russians try a long list of hangover remedies — fermented dairy, bread broth called kvas, a good old-fashioned shot of vodka — but one of their favourites is sweating out the toxins in the steam room, complete with a few whacks from the birch branch broom. Because if there’s one thing you feel like doing while your brain is thumping on your skull, it’s having a sweaty naked stranger slap you around with a stick.
10. USA — prairie oyster
Take a Bloody Mary, swap the celery for a whole raw egg, and you’re left with a red-blooded American cocktail that’s packed with much-needed protein after a night out. The egg yolk imitates the texture of an oyster on its way down… and possibly on the way back up too.
11. Mongolia — sheep eyes
If the thought of a prairie oyster turns your stomach, you probably don’t want to read this next one. The Mongolian Mary is the same cocktail, except the raw egg is replaced by two whole sheep eyeballs. Yep, you read that right. Two whole sheep eyeballs. The tomato juice helps replenish your fluids but the eyes do nothing more than stare at you with shame for all those regrettable life decisions you made the night before.
12. Mexico — tripe soup
Trudging around like a zombie off the Walking Dead after a big night? Mexico’s vuelva a la vida (literally ‘return to life’) salad is just the tonic. And if that zesty seafood dish doesn’t do it for you, try another Mexican hangover remedy: menudo, or tripe soup. The lime is meant to settle your stomach. The cow’s guts… not so much.
13. Haiti — voodoo
When the bottle is punishing you, it’s time for you to punish the bottle. Like sticking needles into a voodoo doll, some Haitians believe that piercing 13 black pins into the cork of the bottle that inflicted the hangover will relieve your pain. Hey, who knows if it works, but at least there’s no bird poo or bull penis in sight.
14. Denmark — more beer
The hair of the dog is a common hangover cure in every corner of the globe, but the Danes have a special word for theirs: reparationsbajer, literally ‘recovery beer’. Sure, jumping back on the horse might only delay the inevitable, but you may as well have some fun on that long, painful road back to sobriety.
About the author
Tom Smith is an Australian writer living in Manchester. Obsessed with sport and travel, Tom has watched cricket in Cardiff, football in Fortaleza, baseball in the Bay Area, and there’s still plenty more to tick off the bucket list yet. Read more of his work here.