Everyone was Irish yesterday. God help us, everyone was Irish. For those of you who skipped the corn beef and cabbage and went straight to the hard (and hopefully good) stuff, you're probably lamenting any association with the Emerald Isle this morning. We can help. As a public service to the hungover, every week we track down the best bartenders in America and ask them to share their favorite hair-of-the-dog remedies. This week: A South Boston original with roots in Italy, not Ireland.
THE EXPERT: Ezra Star, bar manager of Drink in Boston's Fort Point
HER ELIXER: Italian Greyhound
ITS HISTORY: The traditional Greyhound, grapefruit juice with gin, most likely originated around Prohibition. However, as the country's appetite for vodka began to outpace gin around the 1950s, it became acceptable to use either spirit in the cocktail. Now, Drink's sister bar, No. 9 Park, has added a third variation to the mix. It swaps out the gin or vodka for the Italian red vermouth Punt e Mes. Translated, Punt e Mes means "point and a half," indicating that the 32-proof aperitif is a combination of vermouth and a half-dose of bitters. The bitters are made from 15 secret herbs, but many suggest one is quinine, a natural painkiller found in the bark of cinchona trees in the Andes.
ITS HEALING POWERS: South Boston, a.k.a. Southie, takes the Feast of Saint Patrick seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the police shut down all of the bars in the predominantly Irish-American neighborhood at 7:30 P.M. sharp on the holiday. Drink, located on Southie's perimeter, is spared the shutdown, but not the riotous revelers. In other words: Its bar manager, Star, has seen firsthand what a long day filled with Guinness and Jameson will do to an individual's motor skills and cognitive ability. That's why she recommends the Italian Greyhound, a simple cocktail with only two ingredients that not even shaky hands can ruin, for the next morning. "When you're hungover, you don't want something complicated," she says.
Better yet, Star vows the sugar in the vermouth and the Vitamin C in the grapefruit juice will help perk you up. The bitters, traditionally used as medicine in the 19th century, rejuvenate your body. And the salted rim replenishes your electrolytes like Gatorade does. "It's a light drink," she says. "But mostly, it's just refreshing."
She discovered her preferred hangover cure while assessing bartender candidates at Drink. After celebrating a friend's birthday the night before, she wasn't feeling that great. "It was noon, which is very early for a bartender," she says. "We had them make a couple of drinks for us to judge. I remember tasting the Italian Greyhound and suddenly not feeling quite as sick. I immediately made them make me another one."
WAIT, THERE'S SALT ON THE RIM? SHOULDN'T THE DRINK BE CALLED AN ITALIAN SALTY DOG THEN? If you want to be pedantic, sure.
2 oz. Punt e Mes
2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
THE METHOD: Salt the rim of an Old Fashioned glass. Add ice, the vermouth and the grapefruit juice. Stir.
Alyson Sheppard is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mental Floss, McSweeney's, National Geographic Adventure, the Boston Globe and more. Follow her on Twitter @amshep.
Photo by mobil'homme/Flickr Creative Commons