In addition to being painful, hangovers are a waste of time. I’ve got things to do in the morning - work, exercise, brunch cocktails - and it’s much harder to do those things with a churning stomach and throbbing headache.
For a cocktail writer, hangovers are an occupational hazard. I try to attend every restaurant opening, tasting session, open bar party, brand launch, bartender brunch, and after-party in whatever city I happen to be in. But I rarely endure hangovers the next day because I make a vigilant effort to avoid them. Here’s how:

Eat first. If dinner isn’t part of your plan for a night out, make it your plan for the pre-party. Food in the stomach helps slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, but it does more than that. I drink more when I’m hungry, filling my stomach with liquids instead of solids, so I always try to grab a snack on the way to the bar. Also, if I have a belly full of food there isn’t room for a six-pack of beer in there.

Hydrate. Surely you know that much of a hangover is caused by dehydration, yet still you do not drink enough water. Order a glass of water with every drink and not only will you stay hydrated, you’ll spend more time peeing instead of drinking. Drink water before you go out and more when you get back from the bar. Water is your friend.

Watch the caffeine. Most people underestimate their level of sobriety when combining caffeine with alcohol. If you drink five Rum and Cokes you’re likely to feel less buzzed than you would on six shots of rum, though you’ll have just as much liquor in your system. Additionally, all the sugar in flavored sodas contributes to a hangover, so if you’re having more than a couple of drinks watch your mixers too.

Drink lighter. Consider consuming beverages with less alcohol if you’re planning to drink more than a few. One beer has the same quantity of alcohol as an ounce and half of a spirit like vodka, but at the average gay bar they pour two or three times the standard amount of vodka into the glass. (Admittedly, this is a great from a bargain drinking standpoint.) Or try a non-alcoholic cocktail in between drinks - try bitters and soda, or soda water with a splash of cranberry and lime. These give the experience of a standard cocktail without contributing to the next day’s ruin.

Drink better, not more. Top-shelf spirits tend to have less hangover-causing congeners than those mystery bottles poured from the drink well. Additionally, if you order fancy cocktails from the drink menu you may spend more time savoring the drink instead of slurping it up through the straw.

Skip out early. Nothing good ever happens at the after-hours party anyway. The later you stay out the more trouble you’ll get into, and the more of the next day you’ll miss. And nobody wants to miss brunch.

Camper English is a cocktails and spirits writer and publisher of Alcademics.com.

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