Hangover-free drinks: A myth or reality?

Dec 12, 2018

Woman nursing hangover

Besides its high calorie content and potential health risks, one of the biggest put-offs of alcohol is the dreaded hangover the morning after. For some, even just a couple glasses of wine are a one-way ticket to a sore head the next day, while others may only experience mild effects of a hangover, even after an all-night session. Although everyone has their tolerances to alcohol, we can all agree on one thing: a hangover is unwarranted suffering.

There are heaps of hangover relief tips and tricks out there, as well as over-the-counter remedies chock-full of vitamins and minerals promising to have you waking up feeling as fresh as a daisy. Some even swear by hair-of-the-dog, convinced the cure is in the form of a spicy Bloody Mary cocktail garnished with a stalk of celery. But let’s be honest, nothing works as well as avoiding the alcohol altogether or sticking to the alcohol free drinks such as Kolibri all night.

But what about preventing hangovers in the first place? This seems like the more feasible option after all. Surely it’s easier to prevent a hangover, than try to cure one when the damage has already been done?

I’ve heard about a few alcohol brands who have marketed themselves as “hangover-free”, the more recent being a £7.99 bottle of Prosecco from Aldi that went viral around Christmas 2017. Aldi claims that the secret is that this organic bottle of bubbly contains less sulphites than other alcohols, which is supposedly a big cause of hangovers. The fruit used in the prosecco is also grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides, which is also thought to contribute to a hangover.

But does it really work? Richard Bampfield, Lidl’s resident wine expert, said: “We’ve all had that shocking wine hangover. This is sometimes attributed to the sulphite preservatives used in wine to keep them fresher for longer.

“Generally, organic wine producers use a lower level of sulphites in the production process, which means they are less likely to contribute to hangovers."


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Personally, I think it all sounds a bit too good to be true. From what Bampfield has said, there are still hangover-causing sulphites in the prosecco, just less of them. So if you are overly sensitive to these sulphites and have notoriously bad hangovers, it looks like you’ll still be waking up with a headache after a few glasses, maybe just less of one.

As well as brands claiming to be hangover free, I also came across an article by Elite Daily about the possibility of a type of alcohol that ‘mimics the effects of alcohol, without inducing all of the dreadful symptoms of that next-day hangover’. And what’s more, it doesn’t cause liver problems.

Could it really be true? The man behind the study is Professor David Nutt from the Imperial College of London. Professor Nutt has patented the substance, which he named alcosynth, claiming it will be able to revolutionise the way we consume alcohol and eradicate hangovers by 2050.

But, according to the experts, there are some downsides to alcosynth. Some have said that the components of alcohol that give you a hangover are also responsible for its taste, so flavours would be compromised, and your favourite alcoholic drinks could lose their appeal. Also, by taking out some of the ‘nasty’ properties of alcohol, the effects of consuming alcosynth will be slightly different to traditional alcohol - making you feel drunk but without the cognitive impairment.

This makes some experts concerned that the ‘buzz’ won’t be enough, and that people will look for other means to get the desired effects of traditional alcohol. And although it’s been suggested that it could be used to help treat alcoholism, some experts believe it will only ‘whet the appetite’ of those fighting addiction, making them hungrier for the more potent effects of alcohol.

I’m not sold on the idea of hangover free alcohol, and I still say the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink at all. I’d much rather pour myself a cold glass of Kolibri and feel fresh in the morning.


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