There is a time for cocktails and a time for their cure. Every New Year's Eve party around the world induces New Year's Day hangovers. There are many home remedies, but the villagers of old Russia swear by cucumber pickling brine, or rassol. A Moscow-based brewery called Ochakovo even began bottling a similar brine made with cabbage in April 2000. Can 150 million drunks be wrong?
For several years now, the Russian General Store (9629 Hillcroft, 713-721-7595) has offered free rassol to all comers on New Year's Day. For those who didn't make it by this January 1, co-owner Alexandr Kogan is willing to share his recipe.
The Russian General Store's Rassol:
Five gallons of loosely packed cucumbers (the small warty kind)
Two and a half gallons of boiling water
12 ounces salt
10 heads garlic
1/2 pound fresh dillweed
One jalapeño pepper
1/4 pound horseradish root, peeled and sliced
One bunch each of cilantro, parsley and leaf celery
One tablespoon each of mustard seeds, black peppercorns and allspice berries
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Wash cucumbers. Dissolve salt in boiling water and pour over cucumbers into a clean container, preferably glass or ceramic. Mix in the herbs, spices and aromatic vegetables. Place a weighted plate on top of the container to ensure all the cucumbers are submerged. Store at room temperature for one day for lightly salted cucumbers; for medium salty, add four more ounces of salt to the brine and store for two days. Eat the cucumbers. Drink the brine if hungover.