5 Boozy Drinks to Settle Your Overstuffed Stomach

Oops, you did it again, didn't you? You had to try every tasty-looking morsel at the Thanksgiving banquet and then go back for seconds. And thirds. Yeah, eventually, you're going to want to work that off, but, for now, you just want something that will settle your unhappy tum-tum and simultaneously drown out your screaming in-laws. We've got some suggestions.

It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Go home, turkey, you're drunk.

General Principles

Your gut is almost certainly packed with a lot of rich, sweet food. It's heavy stuff and, because there's so much of it, your digestive system is struggling to break it down. So we are looking for drinks that works as digestifs, or digestive aids. While port and cream sherries are sometimes considered digestifs, they're really more dessert-drinks.

If you've got too much sweet, heavy stuff, you're going to want to go with something a little more bitter, that works in tandem with your natural stomach juices.

1. Bitters

Your best boozy weapon in the war against bloat are bitters. Bitters were originally sold not as a cocktail additive, but as a sort of cure-all medicine. They can't cure everything, but they're pretty fantastic for an upset stomach. Remember, there are two types of bitters: tinctures (like Angostura) and potables (like Campari, which means they're low-proof enough to be drunk on their own).

The best thing about bitters is how versatile they are. Add a few extra dashes to your cocktail, or pour some into a glass of sparkling water. There are a ton of potable bitters, too, like Chartreuse. Just try to avoid overly sweet ones. And, of course, the best potable bitter for the stomach would have to be...

2. Fernet

Technically a potable bitter, we're still giving it its own spot, because when you're extremely full, there's nothing better than a shot of fernet. During prohibition this was one of the few types of booze you could legally get your hands on, because it was so effective for stomach issues that the government allowed it to continue to be sold as medicine. You can refer to our piece on fernet for some more recipes, but it's great on its own. The people of San Francisco tend to throw back a shot and chase it with some ginger ale.

3. Ginger Drinks

Speaking of ginger, that spicy root is used all around the world to cure upset stomachs. Personally, my favorite way to take it is in a Ginger Old Fashioned. If you have some fresh ginger, a juicer, and some sugar, you can make an amazing and spicy ginger simple syrup that people are going to love (just use a 1:1 ratio by weight and stir until the sugar is dissolved. No heat required). If that's too much work, though, you can go out and buy a ginger liqueur like Domaine de Canton (which we've used before and is quite good).

Or, of course, you could go the Dark and Stormy route. Go out and get yourself some ginger beer. No, not that cheap, no-ginger-having ginger ale. Get something with some real kick, like Reed's Extra Ginger Brew. Use six ounces ginger beer to two ounces of dark rum (like Gosling's Black Seal rum), pour over ice, top with a lime, and you're off to the races.

4. Mint

Sometimes mint feels like you're putting an ice pack on your belly, even when it comes in a hot form. For this you're going to want to skip the peppermint schnapps, which is basically just syrup. The best thing you can do here is make yourself a hot toddy with peppermint tea. Using the real leaves, you're getting the actual mint oils, which can be very soothing. There are a million variations on the toddy, but the peppermint version is my favorite.

Just make a cup of peppermint tea with about six ounces of boiling water. Add two ounces of brandy. That's really all you need for a delicious drink, but, of course, you can also add a lemon wedge, a cinnamon stick, cloves—really, whatever you like. It cuts right through that hot mess in your guttyworks.

5. Scotch and Company

Sometimes, you've gotta go hard. Like Ron Burgundy, we love scotch. Alcohol is, in itself, a solvent, so it's going to help clean out everything in its path. Honestly, pretty much any spirit will work, but in our opinion some work better than others, and while we love bourbon, for a full stomach, Scotch is king. Put simply, bourbon is generally a lot sweeter than scotch, owing to its corn-heavy mash bill (must be at least 51 percent corn), and the fact that it's aged in new, charred, white oak barrels, which impart a lot of sweetness. By contrast, scotch is a lot spicier, with woody, smokey flavors that really help cut through all the pie.

That said, there are a lot of options, depending on your personal preference. Cognacs and armagnacs work fantastically well, too. Some brandies should work, too, provided they aren't too sweet. A strong, dry gin cocktail such as a Negroni (which also adds in a potable spirit) can really do the trick, as well.

Ultimately, you should just drink whatever makes you feel better, and there's no accounting for personal taste. Just keep in mind that while something like an IPA may feel great initially, beer and such things have a way of expanding, which can make you feel even worse. That said, if you've got a remedy you're particularly fond of, please share it with the class, and check back next week for another Happy Hour.


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