I usually get fucked up whenever I go out drinking, so my hangovers are brutal all the time. I'm always awake no later than 8 AM, though, even if I've only gotten home at 4 AM. But just because I wake up early doesn't mean I'm not going to lay in bed for three hours.
It's common for me to wake up hungover in the morning and be completely blind—I can't see a thing. That's when I'll lay in a fetal position with remorse from the night before. When my vision comes back, I try to think positive thoughts and stay there for a good ten minutes before reaching for my phone. The first thing I do is check my social media posts and look through my pictures, because I have a bad memory and remember nothing after blacking out. Then there'll be the texts from my friends as well. A bartender friend I was playing pool and drinking with the other night messaged me the next morning, saying I was hilarious. When I asked why, she said, "Don't you remember? You were laying on the pool table with your shirt off, rubbing your nipples!" Going through my phone and hearing all of that is like reliving the night through someone else's eyes. It's kind of surreal—almost like an out-of-body experience.
Working in this industry, it's never been enough to just know something. I always want to know the reasoning and the facts. That's why I studied the human immune system and the causes of hangovers.
RECIPE: The Ultimate Hangover Sandwich
I learned that alcohol is a diuretic and makes your body lose water. It also blocks the pituitary gland in the brain that produces vasopressin, which tells your body where to take water from. When that's blocked, all the water is drained out of the body, and once that happens, it goes to the last place that has water, which is your brain. Once it starts taking water from your brain, the tissue in your brain shrinks, and that's what causes a headache. So I kind of figure every time I'm getting a headache from a hangover, it kind of puts me at ease to think, "Oh so that's what's happening—I'm just dehydrated. That's why I have a headache." It's kind of cool to think your brain is shrinking away from your skull.
When I'm in this state, the only thing that gives me any purpose is making my Ultimate Hangover Sandwich. It isn't just about having something to eat—it has a dual purpose. It's a meticulous process that takes a lot of time, which kind of kills my hangover and keeps me from thinking about the agonizing pain my body and mental state are going through. Having to make the sandwich basically gives me a reason to live during times like those and keeps me going.
I'll always have the ingredients for the sandwich ready the night before, because it's one of my two pre-drinking rituals. (I know that going grocery shopping in the morning isn't going to happen.). My second pre-drinking ritual is cleaning my apartment before I leave the house. The last thing I want to do is wake up hungover, feeling like shit in a dirty room. That's gross.
Plus, obviously, you never want to bring someone home to a pigsty, because that could make you lose the deal.
Anthony Bohlinger is an award-winning bartender currently at Maison Premiere and Seamstress. He has previously been part of the James Beard Foundation's program for Most Outstanding Bartender and a finalist for GQ's Most Imaginative Bartender.
As told to Tae Yoon. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.