Good morning! I feel like shit. You feel like shit. But the questionable decisions we made last night don’t make us stupid. We’re gonna battle this hangover together with science and mixology. We’re gonna DIY our own Pedialyte cocktails that don’t taste like a unicorn’s ass.
As every alcohol enthusiast knows, alcohol is a diuretic — it encourages your body to shed fluids — and a plethora of common hangover symptoms (headache, the shakes, the I-got-hit-with-the-stupid-stick malady) are due to dehydration.
But you’re not just losing water with each trip to the bar’s bathroom. You’re also losing sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and chloride — the major electrolytes in your body, the vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies running without acting like malfunctioning Westworld robots. Electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle function, balance blood pressure and keep us hydrated. Without proper levels of electrolytes, you may experience weakness, twitching, changes in blood pressure, confusion, seizures, fatigue and muscle spasms.
That’s where Pedialyte, the children’s medicine used for treating dehydration after a flu, comes in. Adults have discovered it as a marvelous hangover cure, too. And why not? Pedialyte was literally invented by doctors and scientists to rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes.
But, as anyone who has stood, bleary-eyed, in the cruel, unfiltered fluorescent lighting of their neighborhood Walgreens at 2 p.m. on a Saturday, weighing the life-or-death decision of mixed fruit, strawberry or (for true sadists) bubblegum, knows too well, Pedialyte also tastes like shit.
Fortunately, electrolytes are naturally occurring elements. With some foresight and a quick trip to the grocery store, you can make your very own sanity-saving rehydration beverages at home.
You don’t need experience crafting cocktails or building drink menus to mix yourself up a DIY Pedialyte alternative, but something tells me it’d be nice for someone to take the guesswork out of it for you. Here’s a handful of super-simple, truly palatable day-after fix-its compiled using my professional experience of making drinks — and battling hangovers.
Happy hydrating, friends.
The necessary and rehydrating ingredients in Pedialyte boil down to sugar, salt and water with proportions of roughly six teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt to one liter of water.
While not great for you in large doses, sugar is a mandatory ingredient in any electrolyte beverage. You can do the hard stuff (refined white crystals), or use agave syrup or honey. Do not use low-calorie sugar substitutes — god knows what’s in there, but in the rehydration game it’s doing more harm than good. Now is not the time to be concerned with calories.
Any salt will do the trick, but when you’re prepping drinks in advance, treat yourself and get that good pink Himalayan shit: It contains potassium, magnesium and calcium in addition to, well, salt.
Water is mandatory for hydration, but not all waters are created equal. Soda water, tonic water and sparkling water all contain minerals in addition to bubbles, increasing your dose of electrolytes. Seltzer water, however, does not. If you’d like your base liquid to do double duty, skip the La Croix and bring on the Canada Dry.
And Now, the Good Stuff
I’m writing this with my own case of pounding head and fluttery hands, so forgive the lack of witty and cute cocktail names. I promise they taste just as good and work just as well.
The No. 1: Orange juice, salt, soda water
Like a mimosa, but different. Citrus fruits are high in potassium, an electrolyte not found in salt. Use fresh oranges, or a bottled version you’re sure is made with real, fresh oranges. Combine equal parts OJ and soda water and add half a teaspoon of salt per liter of liquid.
The No. 2: Blackstrap molasses, salt, lemon juice, water
Blackstrap molasses contains tons of magnesium (as do nuts, leafy greens and pumpkin seeds, but those are much less fun to drink). Magnesium is an electrolyte required for over 600 cellular reactions. Low levels of magnesium can be responsible for everything from memory problems to high blood pressure.
For one pint, juice two lemons and combine with one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses. Stir the lemon juice and molasses together until the molasses has thinned, then top with water. Adding cold water to straight molasses will leave you with a brick in the bottom of your glass.
The No. 3: Pickle juice
Just pickle juice. Don’t knock it til you try it. You can add a cup to a glass of water, but if I were you I’d save yourself a step and hit it straight. (As my roommate will happily corroborate, I’ve been known to drink it right out of the jar.)
The No. 4: Coconut water, salt, lime
Coconut water has long been hailed as a means of speedy recovery, and with good reason: It naturally contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium — all of the major electrolytes. Adding salt and lime will increase your sodium and potassium intake, and it’ll remind you of last night’s margaritas just enough to remind you to stop at two next time.