Bar Talk: A Classic Food & Wine Hangover

Food & Wine Classic In Aspen

A hangover. It’s one of those shared human experiences, the next-day result and nagging reminder of overconsumption or overindulgence.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “hangover” has two main definitions:

1: something that remains from what is past,

2a: disagreeable physical effects following heavy consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs,

2b: a letdown following great excitement or excess.

I think all of these definitions can be applied to the hangover felt by many on the Sunday of and the Monday after the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

It’s a long three-day event — actually four or five days if you count the kick-off parties that now start on Wednesday — full of eating, expelling all the extroverted tendencies you can muster, and, of course, drinking.

Even for locals, this is a long 72-plus hours of indulging and revelry, so for visitors not used to consuming at high elevation, this event can be brutal by day three.

The signs of hangovers were evident Sunday by the amount of people wearing sunglasses inside seminars and the grand tasting tent, attempting to mask tired eyes; the horse, overused voices; and the enthusiasm in looking for food booths as opposed to hard-liquor booths during the two-hour, all-you-can-eat-and-drink (in tasting portions) spree that is the final grand tasting of the Classic.

After talking with some attendees and presenters, it was clear that many were feeling, to be frank, destroyed from all the revelry at 7,908 feet.

So how do you “cure” a physical hangover?

While there are many old wives’ tales regarding hangover cures, the truth is, the only way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol in the first place.

But when that’s not in the cards, how can you make the day-after-drinking a little bit less sucky?

Some people would advise the “hair of the dog” method to push through, but I’m inclined to agree with the National Institute for Alcohol and Abuse on this one: It probably does more harm than good, as it just postpones the hangover — and could make it worse.


Others suggest a strange blend of ingredients, which taste like garbage, but they swear is a cure-all.

I’ve had some co-workers say they kick the feelings of a hangover by not wallowing in the symptoms but instead by popping some ibuprofen and getting dressed up for the day ahead, to trick their mind and body into feeling put together.

My go-to “cure” typically involves lots of eating, specifically in the category of carbohydrates (bagels are my favorite) and drinking a Liquid IV or two, plus a large amount of seltzer water (my preferred varieties when I’m hungover are the coconut or key lime La Croix flavors or the lemon-lime from Waterloo, if you must know).

A bagel and an iced chai from Paradise Bakery in Aspen.

According to an article from 2021 published on the Harvard Medical School site ( called “7 steps to cure your hangover,” I might be on to something with my increased intake of liquids and carbs.

Since drinking alcohol in excess can actually dehydrate you, replenishing fluids can help your body begin to bounce back.

Dr. Robert Swift, a researcher at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rhode Island, is quoted in the Harvard article. He touches on the topic of carbs as a cure, by saying since heavy drinking can both lower blood sugar levels and steer people to forget to eat as they overconsume, a meal of toast and juice can help the body fight off the headaches and general malaise that accompanies a hangover.

Let me know what your hangover go-to is, and maybe in next week’s column I can share the answers so others can try it.

And, if you’re experiencing an emotional hangover, coming down from a weekend high, know that you are not alone. I have no remedies, either proven to work or myths that can help, except for daydreaming about all the fun to come for the 40th anniversary next June.