Tonight’s the night — the last day of the most grindingly awful year. Whether drinking to forget 2020 or to celebrate better days in 2021, it’s likely people will be knocking back more alcohol this New Year’s Eve than they have in previous years.
More than a quarter of us drank more in lockdown than normal, and Champagne and prosecco have been flying off the shelves in preparation for tonight. But, as much as we want this wretched year done with, nobody needs a crashing New Year’s Day hangover. So, what if it were possible to lessen the effects?
A new transdermal (i.e. skin) patch is being sold by none other than John Lewis, which adds a certain cache to the product in the battle against the dreaded hangover.
The Good Patch Hangover (£12) claims: ‘This small yet potent transdermal patch remedies the effects of an evening out with the help of organic hemp CBD isolate, green tea, and essential vitamins. CBD reduces inflammation and stomach upset, while the green tea extract and vitamins tackle headaches and reintroduce nutrients.’
Claudia Connell rounds up a selection of remedies for avoiding a hangover, as a £12 patch on sale at John Lewis claims to reduce inflammation, stomach upset and headaches (file image)
Forget ‘never knowingly under-sold’, are they saying I could be never knowingly undersozzled and not pay the price the next day? If they are, I’m sold!
Over the years I’ve endured my share of miserable New Year’s Day hangovers. The worst occurred many years ago when my then boyfriend and I had gone to watch London’s fireworks from the balcony of a fancy bar.
I clearly remember having a few flutes of champagne before switching to wine, and vaguely remember brightly coloured cocktails with bits of pineapple hanging off the side.
I absolutely don’t remember him carrying me home in a fireman’s lift, so drunk no taxi would accept me. I only know about it because of the angry message left on my answerphone — and the fact I never heard from him again.
On New Year’s Day my hangover was so bad, I was convinced a mouse had crawled into my ear while I slept (or rather, was passed out) and was using my brain as a trampoline.
Today, in my 50s, I drink in moderation, only letting my hair down on a handful of special occasions, when I take preventative action.
Before a night out, I ‘carb load’ (a bit like an athlete except my marathon session is a drinking and not a running one) to ‘soak up’ the alcohol. I also try not to mix drinks and remember to down a pint of water before bed.
If all else fails a Full English and Bloody Mary the next morning usually does the trick.
The Good Patch Hangover (pictured) should be applied one hour before drinking or the morning after
With The Good Patch Hangover it’s suggested you apply it one hour before drinking or the morning after and it can be worn for up to 12 hours.
In order for patches to work the active ingredients need to cross the skin and be absorbed into the blood.
Consultant dietician Sophie Medlin has her doubts: ‘It’s true that when you’ve been drinking your liver does use a lot of B vitamins to help you to break down the alcohol, but there’s no evidence that supplementing is going to make you feel any better and no evidence that I’m aware of that you can absorb green tea across your skin.
‘Ultimately, this is unlikely to make a significant impact.’
As a dry run for tonight, I decided to put my hangover patch to the test on Christmas Day. Still in England’s Tier Two, I hosted six people for dinner.
I applied my patch to the inside of my wrist before my guests arrived and then knocked back the Champagne, confident I’d be fresh as a daisy on Boxing Day.
We then drank a further six bottles of white wine between us. I ended the night with a double Baileys and ice.
Claudia said she didn’t feel nauseous and her hangover seemed to fade sooner than she expected, after using The Good Patch Hangover (file image)
By the time I went to bed I was feeling so tipsy I didn’t bother taking my make-up off. I simply rubbed the patch for luck (it had been on seven hours at that point) and then let my head hit the pillow.
Seven hours later, after a fitful, unsatisfying sleep, I woke up with a thumping head that felt far too heavy for my shoulders. Not what I was hoping for, John Lewis!
At least I didn’t feel nauseous and my hangover did seem to fade sooner than I expected and it had all but subsided by lunchtime without the need for painkillers.
Had it worked after all or had I simply paced myself over the course of six hours and eaten a lot as I drank?
It may not have been a miracle cure, but I’ll be wearing one again this evening to make sure my hangover isn’t a patch on previous years.
Patch It Detox Foot Patches (£3.99, hollandand barrett.com)
Patch It Detox Foot Patches (pictured) claims to ‘reduce the body’s toxic load’, however Sophie says there is no evidence any of the detox products achieve anything
It contains mandarin wood vinegar and green tea. The pack has two patches that you stick to your soles before bedtime and keep in place with bed socks.
They claim to ‘reduce the body’s toxic load.’
I remove the patches when I wake up to find them filthy. I felt no different, but was it possible the toxins in my body had really been sucked out of my feet while I slept?
Consultant dietitian Sophie Medlin says: ‘There is no evidence any of the detox products achieve anything. Your liver and your kidneys do the job very nicely. It’s far more likely the dirt on the pads was salt and sweat reacting with the patch.’
Clean Wine (£7.50 cleanwine.co.uk)
Clean Wine (pictured) claims to ‘reduce the effects of a hangover after drinking wine’
A 5ml handbag-sized spray that claims to be proven to ‘reduce, or even eliminate, the effects of a hangover after drinking wine.’
It claims to work on red, white, rose, sparkling wines , sherry and port. All you do is pump the required number of sprays into your glass before pouring.
The theory is that it’s the sulphites in wine that cause headaches and that by removing them with a neutralising agent (food-grade hydrogen peroxide in this case), you also remove the hangover.
I found that while this seemed to work well on rose and prosecco, I still suffered a headache after white and red wines.
L-Cysteine Solgar L-Cysteine 500mg 30 Capsules, (£8.49, medino.com)
Research earlier this year suggested L-Cysteine could prevent hangovers, after participants experienced less headache and nausea than usual
There was great excitement earlier this year when a Finnish study revealed amino acid L-Cysteine, readily available over the counter as a dietary supplement, could prevent hangovers.
Participants reported less headache and nausea than usual from their hangovers after taking a 1,200mg dose after drinking. But with just 19 participants, all burly Finnish men, it’s too early to hail it as the cure.
…or to be on the safe side try a mocktail
A cocktail connoisseur pities the lowly mocktail drinker. How can it be possible to enjoy the subtleties of the genre’s classics without the punch of alcohol?
But nowadays, non-drinkers have plenty of viable alternatives, with a growing range of unusual spirits and aperitifs that have similar features to alcohol.
It’s all down to English designer Ben Branson, who six years ago invented a zero-alcohol spirit called Seedlip, made from distillates of garden peas, hay and other aromatics.
Seedlip’s Garden spirit is hailed as a real alternative to the finest gin. It was followed by two more, Spice and Grove, and he has now collaborated with expert drinks creative Claire Warner — known in the industry as ‘The Mouth’ — to make a range of aperitifs based on distillations of oak, hence the name: Æcorn.
His timing couldn’t be better. Last year, UK sales of non-alcoholic spirits hit £37 million, with turnover set to double by 2024.
As Seedlip and Æcorn have been joined in this market by competitors such as Lyre’s and Pentire, there’s lots of choice. Here are four mocktails that won’t give you a sore head tomorrow.
Rose Prince claims non-drinkers have plenty of viable alternatives nowadays
The flavour of Seedlip Grove 42 is based on citrus, ideal for a version of the Cosmopolitan cocktail, typically made with lemon vodka, Cointreau, lime juice and cranberry juice.
Grove is distilled from three types of Mediterranean orange, plus ginger and lemongrass, and has an ultra-dry finish.
This is pretty Cosmo, and tastes citrusy and refreshing, thanks to the addition of cranberry juice.
Garnish: Paring of orange zest.
- 50ml Seedlip Grove 42
- 25ml Æcorn Aromatic
- 25ml cranberry juice
- 10ml lemon juice
Combine the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well, strain and serve without ice.
A gently spicy, sweetish version of the winter favourite which won’t give you the mulled wine ‘head-throb’. The dryness of Æcorn Aromatic comes from three English grapes, while smoked cherrywood, oak, clove and cassia bark add warmth. There’s also kola nut, a West African nut used in the original Coca-Cola.
Glass: Heat resistant.
Garnish: Star anise.
- 300ml Æcorn Aromatic
- 210ml apple juice
- 90ml cinnamon syrup
Place the ingredients in a pan, simmer (do not boil), then serve.
The real thing comes with the unsettling sensation of being wide-awake and tired at the same time. Instead, try this version using Seedlip Spice, which provides richness and a slight warm tingle, while the coffee concentrate contains the stimulant. The botanical extracts include allspice berries and cardamom, and two distillates derived from bark.
Garnish: Coffee beans.
- 50ml Seedlip Spice 94
- 50ml Sandows Cold Brew Concentrate (coffee)
- 15ml sugar syrup
MIX ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain and pour.
Smoky Old Fashioned
Feragaia is the first distilled non-alcoholic spirit to come out of Scotland. The botanicals are foraged by locals and include seaweed, bay, blackcurrant leaf, lemon verbena and chamomile.
The result is unique — neither a faux whisky nor a faux gin.
Garnish: Twist of orange peel.
- 50ml Feragaia spirit
- 15ml cold Lapsang Souchong tea
- 10ml ginger syrup
- 5ml fresh lime zest
Put a handful of ice cubes in the glass. Pour in the ingredients, then stir well until properly chilled.