Archive for April, 2009

Just in Time for Summer: Joe McCanta’s Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Hangover!!

April 30, 2009
never again.....

never again.....

All it takes is a stroll through solarium-tanned, sunglass-donning crowds swarming the tulip booths and steamed-corn vendors in the city to know that summer is indeed descending upon us. As more and more of the dark warm corner clubs that got us through winter empty out in favor of the mass migration to the sunnier spots, it’s easy to fuel the celebration of spring with some indulgence–or over-indulgence as the case may be. Many of these impromptu tributes to ‘yaz geldi’ as the Turks call it start off harmless enough but end up as late-night causes to bleary eyes and headaches the next day, along with the myriad of hangover cures that everyone from your boss to the overly helpful taxi driver will recommend. But as the saying goes ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ so why not welcome this season with a resolution to think ahead and keep those nasty ‘never-doing-that-again’ mornings at bay? Apart from avoiding alcohol altogether here’s how to cheat paying for what you get:

1.    The 1 to 1 Rule.

The number one cause for next-morning agony is dehydration. This is because alcohol causes your liver to run in overtime and as your body gets starved for water to keep the factory running it starts recruiting it from anywhere it can—especially the brain. You can prevent this the next time you’re out by committing yourself to drinking one glass of water with every drink you have, be it a shot, beer, or bright pink umbrella-laden fishbowl of hooch. If you know enough a ahead of time that you will be going out you can also stock up on water throughout the day or even blend a couple pieces of ultra-hydrating watermelon with water and drink it down—too much is never enough and your head will thank you for it.
2.    Don’t Ride the Bull!

Stay away from artificially sweetened mixers and soft drinks—especially the much toted but lethal Red Bull. The caffeine and processed sugar present in Red Bull help to accelerate your body’s dehydration and pumps you full of short-term energy, making you feel invincible for a couple of hours but then nose-diving you back to earth at the end of the night. Likewise, drinks that are brighter than the neon bar sign out front tend to be made from processed syrups filled with cornstarch and harmful preservatives. The best thing to do is sip a base spirit mixed with ice and water or soda (which also helps you follow Rule # 1). Or try mixing with fresh citrus juice—not only will this keep you hydrated but it will fill you with the Vitamin C your body needs to clean you back out.Or if you really can’t give up on the good ‘ol Bull try their brand new Cola— it’s 100% all natural, caffeine-free and actually one of the best colas I’ve tried. At Saf in London we make a drink called the:

Cuba Natural
40 mls Vanilla Infused Fairt Trade Organic Papagayo Spiced Rum

1/2 Lime-Juiced

agave syrup to taste
Shake and serve on the rocks topped with Red Bull Natural cola

3.    Drinking Clear for a Clearer Head.

Another main cause of hangovers is congeners (toxins formed during the fermentation process). These little head-splitting wonders are particularly potent in darker spirits such as whiskey, aged rum, cordials (did someone say Jager-monster?), and red wine. By sticking with spirits you can see through (even if you’re seeing double) you can avoid congeners and the morning-after torment they induce.
4.    Be Loyal.

Drinking is a lot like dating: constantly switching back and forth and running from commitment just ends you up drunk, desperate, and alone at 4.a.m. in a dingy dive bar how you don’t need anything in life but your shoes. If you start with a spirit it is best to commit to it for the rest of the night rather than mixing it up—not only does it make it a little easier for your body to handle but you’re less likely to drink as much than if you are constantly trying new tastes.  As you get over-saturated with the spirit you’re having, your body signals you to head home.
5.    Don’t Be Cheap.

Sure you want to squeeze in 5 drinks for the price of one but what good are those extra 4 drinks when they come back up the next morning? Producers save money to make these spirits cheap by not spending as much time filtering and fining the product, creating a very unclean raw material filled with impurities.  By splurging on 1 really quality drink rather than a few made from the cheap stuff you can actually appreciate what you’re drinking too, which will slow down your overall consumption.
6.    Eat Up and Eat Well.

If you know you’re going to be out for a night on the town, give your body the fuel it needs to be prepared for the onslaught. Eat foods rich in nutrients and especially Vitamin’s C and B (that your body loses as you drink) to help be prepared. Spinach, carrots, red peppers, and beans or legumes can all stock your system up while carbohydrate-rich foods especially those made from whole grains help slow the absorption of alcohol into your blood-stream.  Also, the fuller you are on nutrient-rich foods, the less likely you are to binge on a burger at midnight.
7.    Keep a Tab.

One of the best ways to prevent drinking too much is to keep a running tab of what you drink throughout the night. Your body burns alcohol at the rate of about 3 cl an hour. Something as simple as a napkin with slash marks on it can keep you aware of how far along you are even as your newest best friend at the bar tries to buy you another shot. 9 times out of 10 people drink too much because they drink too fast to be aware of how many they’ve had and by writing your drinks down you can pace yourself much easier.
8.    Work it Out.

The higher your metabolism is the easier for your body to process the toxins found in alcohol. Getting exercise prior to a night out can help you boost your metabolism and also helps you burn through the empty calories found in booze. This works that night too–even if you don’t usually exercise. Something as simple as moderate dancing (breaking a sweat) for 30 minutes or walking home rather than hopping the train at the end of the night will help you heal quicker in the morning.
9.    Give Yourself an Allowance.

This is a great trick I picked up from wise parents worldwide. Treat yourself like a teen and limit the amount of money you can spend, bringing only a pre-determined amount of cash (with no credit cards) for the entire night. Most people have that ‘one-drink-too-many’ late at night when they appreciate it the least and it can do the most harm.  By financially limiting yourself you can reason a little better when temptation strikes—unless of course you resort to hawking your Rolex for another Gibson.
10.    Don’t Smoke.

I know, I know, just one more offence to add to the list for cigarettes. But the truth is when you smoke your liver puts the cigarette first on its list to detox, leaving the alcohol to slowly sit untouched in your system which in turn leaves more of the booze in your bloodstream and more pain the next morning. The next time your out and feel the urge promise yourself if you can wait for 60 minutes you can have a smoke. Chances are in the next hour the urge will pass and you’ll either change location or mindset making it easier.


Soho Rep!

April 29, 2009

Hi All-

My lovely friend Meghan Finn of the reputable SoHo Reperatory Theatre in NYC asked me to create some cocktails for their Gala event hosted by THE Edward Norton! I met “Ed” (as I like to call him) once at the Hollywood Bowl and he was every bit as nice as he seems whilst beating the shit out of people in Fight Club….just kidding! He’s actually one of my top 10 favorite actors and an amazingly humble and cool guy to boot! Glad he’ll be sipping my concoctions!

The great folks at 4 Copas–one of the finest Tequilas on the planet which just happens to be organic– are offering their sponsorship.

For vodka, I used the brand new and incredibly produced product Praire Organic Vodka. You’ll be hearing quite a bit about this fantastic hand-crafted vodka from Minnesota. Many, many thanks to the great folks at Ed Philips & Sons for their support for this event!!

And WHAT are those drinks you might ask?

Margarita Botanica                             Served in a Coupe
50 mls (2 oz) 4 Copas Organic Tequila
25 mls (1 oz) Lime Juice
20 mls ( ¾ oz) Lavender Syrup  (from Sonoma Syrup Co. or make your own*)
15 mls ( ½ oz ) Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 dashes of Green Chartreuse
Shake and tea strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lime peel.

* Lavender syrup: Cook down 2 tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers, de-stemmed with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water until sugar is diluted and the mixture is aromatic. Strain and reserve in a glass container.

Una Apretada                             Served in a Coupe

25 mls (1 oz) 4 Copas Organic Tequila
25 mls (1 oz) Lime Juice
25 mls (1 oz) Apricot Brandy (such as Giffard)–PS for an EXCELLENT blog about Apry click here
10 mls (2 tsp) Sweet Vermouth (such as Vya)
Dash of Cynar—Artichoke Liqueur
Shake and Strain.

Moroccan Martini                             Served in a Coupe
50 mls (2 oz) Prairie Vodka
20 mls (¾ oz) Thick Apricot Juice (alternatively use passion fruit)
10 mls (2 tsp) Simple Syrup
10 mls (2 tsp) Lemon Juice
Fresh Ginger    1 tsp
1 tsp of Spice Mix*
1 part ground fennel, 1 part ground star anise, 1 part cinnamon, 1 part cardamom

Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a whole star anise

*Spice Mix- equal parts ground cinnamon, ground fennel, ground star anise, cinnamon, cardamom– this blend is a nod to the AMAZING 7 Spice Rim that the incredible bartender Adam Seger gave me in Vail. If you don’t know Adam, you haven’t had a good drink! Check out the Lush Blog’s great interview with him.

50 mls (2 oz) Prairie Organic Vodka
25 mls ( 1 oz) Lavender Simple Syrup* see above
10 mls (2 tsp) Ceres Lychee juice
½ Lime     whole lime in 8ths
4 Tarragon Leaves
2 slices Cucumber
Shake     and empty into rocks glass. Garnish with fresh tarragon and shaved cucumber.