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The word “vodka” is derived from “voda,” Russian for “water.”  (Yes, the people who invented the drink believed it to be that essential for survival.)  But the Russians didn’t come up with just the most popular spirit on the planet, they created a comprehensive culture of vodka consumption encompassing the before, during, and after of imbibing.  We would like to reveal here a few generations-proven hangover prevention techniques that at the same time will result in a more pleasant kind of inebriation1.  The world champions of drinking use them – why shouldn’t you?


The Preparation
Do not “freeze” the vodka!  Remember the last time you kept the bottle in the freezer for 3 days prior to the party?  And the vodka poured all weird out of the bottle (thick and slow) and burned your mouth?  This is all wrong.  The correct temperature for quality vodka is about 55ºF.


The Mechanics of Drinking
There are four ways to drink vodka:

  1. Mixed (such as a Screwdriver),
  2. Sipping (as you would Scotch),
  3. Shots (about an ounce every 15-20 minutes), and
  4. The correct, Russian style: a BIG shot (about 3.5 ounces) every hour or so.

It is our suggestion to leave mixed drinks to the ladies and reserve sipping for Scotch.  Method 3 (shots) is acceptable, although a few big gulps at greater intervals (Method 4) will produce by far the most pleasurable, controlled, consequence-free intoxication results.


Before the Party
Have a drink a couple of hours before guests arrive, as you arrange the magazines on the coffee table.  One and a half to two shots (about 50 grams) is just about right.  This acts as the Early Warning System for your liver to wake up and get a head start on producing those alcohol-breaking enzymes that will help you stay your charming self when everyone but the redhead who had just moved in next door hit the road in a cab.  You will also find quite useful a light snack about an hour before the party, followed by strong tea with lemon.  And if it’s going to be one of those parties, a dose of an antacid2 15 minutes prior to all hell breaking loose won’t hurt, either.


During the Party
Vodka is intended not just for good times, but also as a culinary supplement to a wide variety of dishes, complementing and intensifying their flavor.  Pay special attention to chasers, those foods that immediately follow the shot.  Salty and spicy ones are the best, both in terms of taste and alcohol absorption.  Sour pickles or pickled tomatoes neatly sliced and arranged on a plate is an easy, highly popular, and effective vodka chaser.  However, don’t forget about the rest of the dinner table: a good meal plays a crucial part in avoiding undesired consequences the night of, and the day after a party.
Try not to drink more than one kind of alcoholic beverage in one day.  Combining drinks of different proof is a recipe for disaster.  If you absolutely cannot avoid doing this,

  1. Do not make any plans for tomorrow, and
  2. At the very least, drink in ascending proof order (i.e., beer before wine, before port, before liqueur, before vodka/rum/gin/tequila).

NEVER, EVER, EVER go down in the proof of your drinks.  Just a few sips of beer after a night of drinking vodka, and you won’t see that redhead neighbor of yours for a very long time.
Do not chase vodka with a carbonated beverage of any sort – the CO2 in such drinks provides for faster, less pleasant intoxication.

If you smoke, try to control your habit on the drinking night; if you don’t, the next day’s headache will be more than half caused by your excessive smoking, not by drinking vodka.

Drink a lot of water (at least two cups) or sweet tea with lemon before going to bed.  Take some vitamin C, too (eat a grapefruit?).  Then drink some more water.


In the Morning
Quality, well-distilled vodka in reasonable quantities does not cause hangover.  There is simply no substitute for the purity of vodka when we say “hangover prevention.”  If “Regalia” is not what you had last night, or it was so good you forgot you have to stop drinking at some point, have some tea to reduce alcohol concentration in the body.  Take a shower, alternating hot and cold water.  Take some vitamin C.  Eat some hot soup.  Finish those leftover sour pickles.  Some Russians will drink raw eggs at this point (or the night before), but may we strongly advise you against such dangerous methods.  Just remember to get better vodka next time, and drink a few shots fewer than you did yesterday.

1. Individual results will vary.
2. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations and manufacturer’s instructions.