The seven ages of a hangover: Author DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after

The Man Booker Prize winner has compiled a citizen's guide to festive auto-malaise and self-palliation

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Despite authorities tightening their grip on the causes of hangovers, the hangover itself enjoys halcyon days. It can only mean one thing: authorities quietly love a hangover.

And why not? The hangover is culture.

For one thing, the authorities themselves will have hangovers this month. Many more per capita than us. And as we'll be on the streets seeking comfort from all the crap we can usually avoid, tame as lambs, our barriers as low as our judgement, consumer spending will rise and authorities' budgets will be safe for another year. Better news still if our fry-up doesn't work: GDP rises every time we touch the medical/health complex. Hangovers: steroids of growth. Governments love them. Markets love them. It only falls to us to love them.

This advisory in no way seeks to endorse or condone the over-consumption of alcohol. What it does promote is the responsible, full-blooded pursuit of hangovers; how you arrive at them is up to you. Here then, according to Shakespeare's "The Seven Ages of Man", is a citizen's guide to festive auto-malaise and self-palliation:

1) 0-8 Years

The Infant Mewling

If you've already tasted alcohol you are French, which is cheating. Your parents may think they've cleverly avoided the hangover at this point in your life, by continuing to drink every day at lunch and even breakfast, but we call that not stopping. If we didn't stop we'd feel French, too.

2) 8-18 Years

The Whining Schoolboy

You are going to puke. It's that simple. The reason you shouldn't drink, and hence why there's no cure for your hangover, is dat yous aready be fik init. If we were as undeveloped as you we wouldn't need to drink either. Think about it. Our brains spin at many more revolutions in order to pay the taxes that support your lives. After that toil we take a drink to enjoy so much as a breath of the state you call home: where we can also know everything and talk shit.

3) 18-30 Years

The Lover

You are now licensed to put in motion a hangover and it falls to you to make a strategy. If your goal is unconsciousness on a floor, it can be done in 12 minutes outside an off-licence. If, however, you seek the scenic route via jollity, noise and disappointing sex, that decision carries a duty to think and prepare. Your first advisory consists of simply remembering the four Bs – Water, Banana, Bucket, Bed. Water doesn't strictly begin with B, but that's how you'll pronounce it. Put a pint of water, a bucket and a banana beside your bed before going out. Make it your last waking act to consume the water and the banana, and not use the bucket. For this age there's also a magic bullet – activated charcoal. The key to hangover science is that it takes longer for the body to process alcohol than it does for us to toss it down. This leads to stray poisons in the gut, which can push us over the edge. A couple of charcoal capsules can act as a handbrake by absorbing the worst of them. The jury is still out on its clinical effectiveness but reports from Japan, where they really need this kind of thing, are encouraging. Just remember the next day that charcoal is black, and stays black – so no, it's not a bleeding ulcer.

DBC Pierre says of hangovers: 'Governments love them. Markets love them. It only falls to us to love them.' (Susannah Ireland/The Independent)

4) 30-45 Years

The Soldier

The power-band of hangovers. Here we not only manage them but begin to enjoy them, first by clearing a space, which means not taking one to work – and second by understanding that half the joy of festivity lies in curing yourself with food and quiet aimlessness the following day. A hangover brings sentimentality at simply having survived. It makes you the survivor of a train wreck, and you should look forward to that climb back to life. It's a natural punctuation, a day off school, and only brings shame when we resist it. Science at this age teaches that B-vitamins are depleted in processing alcohol, but can be topped up by supplements before and after a session. The miracle of sleep also grows clear, compared to being awake and feeling like crap.

5) 45-60 Years

The Justice

This is the golden age of self-palliative measures. You can book a suite for your hangover, take the week off. And by this age you've discovered milk thistle – the liver whisperer. You still carry activated charcoal for a sense of abandon – but you don't need it because your system has found its stride. Like a puppy at tea-time it can smell the drinks coming, put them away, and float you through the following day in nothing worse than a gentle fog. What many don't know is that this newfound harmony is mostly owed to your discovery of the one true panacea: Alka-Seltzer.

6) 60-75 Years

The Slippered Pantaloon

Many of life's dynamics follow an inverted U-curve. Much of a good thing flattens the benefit curve, while too much of a good thing sends it down. Certain things attracting this dynamic are also cumulative – and you can feel them accumulating. Now you carry charcoal not to feel rakish but to help hold in wind over dinner. As for hangovers, if you've passed through the stages above, you are a silent possessor of the final truth: that a hangover's bite comes from withdrawal. The brain has taken sedation for granted and compensates the wrong way. As holder of this truth, to milk thistle, to B and C vitamins, to fruit sugars, water, Alka-Seltzer and sleep, you have added a hair of the dog. All that remains is to polish your French.

7) 75-100 Years

Second Childishness

The master position. Your regular ailments are now more uncomfortable than any hangover, and you toss your head in defiance. By now you've mastered the 80/20 rule: if the second sherry is the one that feels best, you only have that one. The crowning reward of this position is that you have successfully self-palliated through seven ages; and now the authorities can kiss your arse.

DBC Pierre's 'Breakfast with the Borgias' will be published in paperback in January (Hammer)

The next day...


By Soul Shakers' Giles Looker

Blood Orange Mimosa

15ml Solerno (blood orange liqueur)
30ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 dash of Angostura bitters
80ml Prosecco
Glass: Cocktail glass
Garnish: Orange twist

Place the Solerno liqueur, orange juice and bitters into a cocktail shaker and shake over cubed ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and add Prosecco. DRINK.

Claret Punch

Serves 6-8

I remember asking Eddie Hart from Quo Vadis what his best hangover cure is, and he simply replied "bottle of Claret". I thought I would take that concept and make it into a punch.

1 bottle of Claret
400ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
200ml lemon juice
150ml sugar syrup (50 per cent water, 50 per cent white caster sugar, stir until dissolved)
6 dashes of Angostura bitters
80ml brandy (optional)
Glass: Punch bowl & 6/8 glasses
Garnish: Orange and lemon wheels

Pour everything into a vessel (ideally a punch bowl), add cubed ice and ladle into serving glasses. DRINK!

Red Snapper

The Red Snapper is the true hangover cocktail. Forget the vodka and go for the gin!

50ml gin
20ml SoulSauce*
Tomato juice
Glass: 12oz glass/highball
Garnish: stick of celery

Take a highball glass and fill with cubed ice, pour all the ingredients into the glass and stir with the celery stick. DRINK.

(*SoulSauce is developed by Soulshakers for Bloody Mary/Red snapper drinkers. It is a one-stop-shop to add the perfect spice to the cocktail. It is available at

Apricot sour

Apricot jam is not just for toast, it can be just as good in cocktails.

50ml gin
25ml lemon juice
1 large teaspoon of apricot jam (Bonne Maman is the best)
10ml sugar syrup
15ml egg white
Glass: cocktail glass
Garnish: orange twist

Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake over cubed ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. DRINK!


6 shots

I cannot be sure what Pierre drinks as a hangover cure, but after drinking with him, I know what he likes to drink at night and I can only imagine he drinks the same in the morning. Here is a great recipe for sangrita (which means 'little blood'). Sangrita is best served alongside a glass of tequila, and is sipped in tandem. It is delicious, hungover or not.

90ml tomato juice
60ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
30ml Grenadine
30ml fresh lime juice
20ml Cholula hot sauce
6 dashes of Tabasco
2 pinches salt
2 pinches pepper
Glass: shot glasses
Garnish: none

Make the sangrita in a jug, then pour into shot glasses. Serve alongside shots of 100 per cent blue agave tequila. DRINK!