Hangover Cures from Around the World

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In the new issue of mental_floss, we reported why bacon is a miracle drug when it comes to dealing with the morning after:

Cure Your Hangovers—with Bacon!

Ah, bacon. For years, we've devoured it in all its crispy glory without worrying about the side effects. But now, scientists at Newcastle University's Centre for Life have given us a new reason to gorge on the stuff. They say that when it comes to hangovers, bacon is a miracle drug. In fact, the study found that bacon is most effective when united with bread in sandwich form. The protein in bacon supplies the body with amino acids, which the brain needs to restore the neurotransmitters damaged by alcohol. Meanwhile, the bread's carbohydrates give the body energy to get up and go. Now, if only sausage could delete all of those text messages you sent last night.

Of course, that doesn't do much for the vegetarian boozehounds in our audience. But fear not, the wonderful blog blurtit has assembled quite a few of the hangover cures in the world. Here are a few hangover cures that I have no intention of trying:

*Jackrabbit Tea- A Wild West morning-after beverage made from rabbit droppings and hot water. Like Blurtit says, "There is no medical reason why water and pre-chewed plant matter would help with a hangover, and it certainly won't help with your morning breath."

*Soot and Warm Milk- 19th century chimney sweeps used this charcoal based "cure all" to soothe their stomachs.

*Pickle Juice- Apparently, the high levels of electrolytes and minerals are supposed to help cut through the headache. I'm guessing they mean dill pickles, not kimchi or Bedekar's lime pickle, but I'd be equally unwilling to try any of them.

*Tsar Nicholas II's lemon wedge- Probably the tastiest (and certainly the most blue-blooded option) on the list, the shooting Tsar used to coat a lemon slice with sugar and ground coffee and then chomp down.

In any case, the site also lists plenty of meaty options from various cultures (ground swallow beak and myrrh, deep-fried canary) and even a few traditions you can embrace before drinking (like rubbing lemon wedges under your arms per the Puerto Ricans, or placing a voodoo curse on the beverages New Orleans' style). Or, I guess you could just drink in moderation. So, do you have a favorite/fail-safe hangover cure you'd like to share with the world? Drop it in the comments!

Link via The Presurfer.

Blue Apron’s Memorial Day Sale Will Save You $60 On Your First Three Boxes

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you’ve gone through all the recipes you had bookmarked on your phone and are now on a first-name basis with the folks at the local pizzeria, it might be time to introduce a new wrinkle into your weekly dinner menu. But instead of buying loads of groceries and cookbooks to make your own meal, you can just subscribe to a service like Blue Apron, which will deliver all the ingredients and instructions you need for a unique dinner.

And if you start your subscription before May 26, you can save $20 on each of your first three weekly boxes from the company. That means that whatever plan you choose—two or four meals a week, vegetarian or the Signature plan—you’ll save $60 in total.

With the company’s Signature plan, you’ll get your choice of meat, fish, and Beyond foods, along with options for diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved dishes. The vegetarian plan loses the meat, but still allows you to choose from a variety of dishes like General Tso's tofu and black bean flautas.

To get your $60 off, head to the Blue Apron website and click “Redeem Offer” at the top of the page to sign up.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

A Brief History of the Mint Julep

Mint juleps began as medicine.
Mint juleps began as medicine.
bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images Plus

The mint julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby—but the cocktail's history dates to back long before the famous event was even conceptualized.

The Ancient (and Medicinal) Origins of the Julep

According to David Wondrich's cocktail history book Imbibe!, the first known record of a julep is from the Kitab al-Mansuri, a Persian medical text dated to around 900 CE. However, the julep that the author included in the Kitab al-Mansuri looked much different than the modern favorite (it was also written as julāb). It was a medicinal drink made by soaking violets with sugar in water. "Julep" pops up in the historical record again in the 1400s when the book was translated into Latin.

The drink was used almost strictly as medicine for centuries. It migrated across the Atlantic with early European settlers making their way to America, along with an herb prized for its medicinal qualities: mint.

Why the Mint Julep is a Spring and Summer Drink

Around the time the julep hit the U.S., things changed a bit. In the 18th century, people started drinking it recreationally as well as medicinally, but we wouldn’t recognize those tipples as a modern julep.

First off, they would have been made with whatever spirit was locally available. Before the Civil War, Southern juleps were likely made with fruit brandy. In Maryland, the julep was (and still is) made with rye whiskey. Elsewhere, it would have been made with rum or rye or moonshine or pretty much any available booze. The drink would be sweetened with honey, sorghum syrup, or any other available sweetener.

And since mint wasn’t available year-round—it’s a perennial plant that grows near water, and, according to The Kitchn, pops up first thing in the spring—the mint julep would have been a seasonal drink, best enjoyed in the spring and summer.

Kentucky Senator Henry Clay: Inventor of the Mint Julep

A portrait of Kentucky Senator Henry Clay
Henry Clay: American statesman, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and inventor of the mint julep
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As the story goes, bourbon’s role as the go-to base for the julep was cemented by Kentucky Senator Henry Clay. Clay is famous for a number of things, such as brokering the “corrupt bargain” that secured the 1824 presidential election for John Quincy Adams. The Kentucky senator also mixed his mint juleps with his state’s native spirit, and he is credited as the bourbon mint julep's founding father.

Clay’s love of the julep is well-documented. He likely introduced the drink to the famed Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. around the time it opened in 1847. Clay's journals indicate that he made his juleps with “mellow bourbon, aged in oaken barrels.”

Henry Clay’s Mint Julep Recipe

As collected by the University of Kentucky Press, Clay's mint julep recipe from his diary is as follows:

"The mint leaves, fresh and tender, should be pressed against a coin-silver goblet with the back of a silver spoon. Only bruise the leaves gently and then remove them from the goblet. Half fill with cracked ice. Mellow bourbon, aged in oaken barrels, is poured from the jigger and allowed to slide slowly through the cracked ice.

In another receptacle, granulated sugar is slowly mixed into chilled limestone water to make a silvery mixture as smooth as some rare Egyptian oil, then poured on top of the ice. While beads of moisture gather on the burnished exterior of the silver goblet, garnish the brim of the goblet with the choicest sprigs of mint."

Or, in modern terms:

Handful of mint leaves
1/4 to 1/2 ounce simple syrup
3 ounces bourbon
Crushed ice

Lightly press (don’t smush!) the mint leaves against the inside of a silver julep cup so that you can smell the mint. Add the simple syrup. Fill the glass halfway with cracked ice, and pour the bourbon over the ice. Stir until the glass starts to frost over. Add more ice and stir again. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve with a short straw.

Why do people drink mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby?

A photo of a person holding a mint julep at the Kentucky Derby
The mint julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since the 1930s.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Churchill Downs

Mint juleps have been served at Churchill Downs—the home of the Kentucky Derby—since the track was built in 1875 (legend has it that mint was even planted at the track for juleps). But the mint julep didn’t become the official drink of the Derby until the 1930s. Sarah Brown Meehan, director of lifestyle communications at Churchill Downs, told Good Morning America that "we know that juleps were a big part of the event by Prohibition because the press at the time lamented the Kentucky Derby without its favorite drink."

After Prohibition was repealed, master bourbon distiller Chris Morris told GMA, making juleps the official drink of the Derby “simply recognized the fact that Kentuckians had been enjoying mint juleps while attending horse races since the early 19th century, if not earlier."