Drinking Games and Hangover Cures from Around the Globe
Germany – Hammerschlagen & Rollmops
Just so you don’t embarrass yourself with your lack of German drinking game knowledge we’ll start with a classic and Oktoberfest-related drinking game: hammerschlagen.
Reportedly started at the very first Oktoberfest in 1810, hammerschlagen involves a group standing around a tree stump and taking turns to hammer their nail into the wood. The first person to achieve this (the nail must be flushed or under the surface of the wood) is rewarded with a shot; the last must buy the next round.
For an amateur player this might turn into a very costly venture, so rather than picking up the tab for some Bavarian hustlers we advise having a wee practice in your back garden prior to playing for real. There’s nothing more satisfying than an unpleasantly surprised German. Or so I’ve been told.
After your hammerschlagen successes you’ll probably have a heavy wallet to match your heavy head, so why not treat yourself to a breakfast of Rollmops to cure the former?
Rollmops are a traditional German dish of pickled herring filled with onion, pickles and often pimento-stuffed olives. Vinegary and savoury, the salty acidity of the dish replenishes your lost salts, whilst the accompanying beer (it’s Oktoberfest after all) takes the edge off that lingering headache.
UK – Arrogance & The Big Breakfast
The UK has a myriad of different drinking games, so boozy is old blighty, but this is a personal fave. Drinking and bravado go hand in hand, no more so than in arrogance.
Apparatus: a coin, an empty glass, friends and alcoholic drinks.
Method: Fill the glass with as much of your beverage as you’re willing to imbibe, flip the coin and call it in the air. If you’re correct pass the glass on and breathe a sigh of relief. If you’re wrong, drink and try again until you get it right. Your arrogance decides the potential fate of yourself and your neighbour.
Conclusion: The potential to consume a mixture of various alcoholic beverages in large quantities will leave at least one of your party deliriously drunk and rather fragile in the morning.
Luckily, the cure for a British hangover is a greasy fry up. Three varieties of pork (bacon, sausage and black pudding) fried eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and toast all washed down with a nice cup of tea. The hangover is forced out by the sheer volume of greasy goodness, leaving you bright, breezy and daisy fresh. Well, maybe not, but at least it tastes good.
South Korea – Napkin Burn & Hangover Soup
You may not be aware that South Koreans are crazy for smoking. Well, they love it, and over 40% of the population (excluding the underage) are smokers. With an abundance of cigarettes comes an abundance of cigarette-related drinking games.
Napkin burn requires a full glass of the beverage of your choice (usually a pint), a napkin and a coin. The napkin is laid across the top of the glass (often secured with an elastic band) and the coin placed in the centre. Each player uses their lit cigarette (which they’ll have of course, they’re South Korean, remember?) to burn a small hole in the napkin, trying to avoid the coin falling down into the liquid.
Strategy is everything, and tension mounts after a player achieves a seemingly physics-defying turn. To the loser go the spoils: necking a pint of slightly ashy beer.
So confident are the South Koreans in their hangover cure that haejangguk actually translates as “hangover soup”. A heady mix of cow bones, cabbage, assorted vegetables, coagulated ox blood and pork spine (an underrated part of the swine skelature if you ask me), haejangguk is sold by street vendors as hangover helpers to those on the morning commute. I don’t foresee Starbucks jumping on the bandwagon, though.
If there’s one drinking culture in the world that arguably supersedes Germany it’s Russia’s, and here drinking games are as brutal and unforgiving as a Siberian winter.
Take Bear Paw, for instance. The rules (like any good drinking game’s) are simple: a tankard is filled with beer and passed around a circle as everyone takes a sip and replaces that sip with vodka. When the beer is gone (replaced with beer scented vodka; yum) the direction of the pass is reversed and each sip is replaced with beer. This goes on ad nauseum (quite literally) until there is only one man standing.
Personally, I’d rather be shipped off to a gulag.
So what does Dr. Smirnov prescribe when you’re feeling a touch peaky from a friendly game of bear paw? Why, more vodka of course!
The “Sick head” is an ungodly concoction consisting of vegetable oil, a raw egg, salt, red and black pepper, and the magic ingredient – vodka! A case of the cure being worse than the illness?
So, whether you’re boozing with Bavarians, getting sloshed with South Koreans or entertaining the English you’ll be able to keep pace and not look like a lemon. Probably best just to avoid Russians, if you plan to survive till the next Oktoberfest that is.
Jamie Waddell is a pharmaceuticals writer based in London who writes on behalf of Chemist Direct, an online pharmacist and purveyor of hangover cures. As a red-blooded Englishman he’s had his fair share of disastrous hangovers and when there are no rollmops in site he’ll probably just go back to bed.