New Year's Eve is sometimes referred to as "amateur night" by people like my friend Freddy, who refrains from going to any of his favorite bars on this occasion. I disagree, and view New Year's as a special night when many revelers enjoy champagne, spirits and cocktails for celebrations, rather than the usual beer or wine that flows on most holidays.
The only amateurs are people who view drinking as a competitive sport and keep a score of how many glasses or shots they've knocked off, before their math skills dwindle to zero. However, even if you're drinking like a pro, it's easy to lose track and wake up wishing it was January 2.
The secret to keeping it together before the New Year's ball drops is to use a two-fisted drinking strategy -- a glass of bubbly or a cocktail in one hand, and a glass of water nearby for the other. I've noticed that the better bars in Houston, and specifically the ones run by alumni of Bobby Heugel's Anvil, always serve a glass of water with each cocktail. Pure water with every drink serves two purposes -- pacing and hydration.
The First Three Drinks
The first three drinks of any session work the "reward centers" of the brain. It's the following drinks that shut down more functional sections of the brain and send revelers downhill on the road to being sloppy drunks. That's why drinking four or more alcoholic beverages is considered binge drinking.
Glasses of water cut down the number of cocktails or drinks you can consume, and buy time for your body to burn enough alcohol so you can smartly drink that fourth or fifth drink.
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Hangovers are simply withdrawal from alcohol, and the worst part of that is dehydration. The more water you drink on New Year's Eve, the better you're going to feel on New Year's Day.
Dehydration isn't the only cause of a hangover. The other main problem is that the body turns alcohol into toxins called acetaldehydes. Recently a team of Chinese scientists discovered that Sprite effectively breaks down acetaldehydes and helps get rid of them. Looks like that last drink, the "one for the road," should be a Sprite.
Of course, despite good prep and best intentions, sometimes drinking doesn't go well and you'll wake up with a real katzenjammer. The best cure I've found is a green chile cheeseburger, french fries and a Coke. Or maybe a Sprite. Fortunately, Whataburger is open on New Year's Day, and the Green Chile Double is still available