Cure for a Political Hangover

Swallowing a Bitter Pill | Susan Spinelli, The Certifiable Sommelier

By far, this is the worst hangover I have ever had. Perhaps it was all those pre-election drinking games where you take a shot every time the Grand Cheeto Wizard mentioned China, Mexico or “the wall”. Maybe it was from the Holidays while we sat next to Uncle Ralph and listened to his rants, or worse yet, next to your brother and his kids admitting they didn’t vote…glug, glug. Perhaps it was the winter doldrums while binge watching every zombie apocalyptic TV series or the newest releases from the Hollywood elite that was streaming right into our bedrooms, where we could open a bottle of wine and knock it off before deciding that a “Housewives” marathon and another bottle would numb us back to sleep. Maybe it would all be okay. Nothing really bad would happen on Day One, right? Maybe smart people would surround this maniac and reel him back in. How much spaghetti could be thrown against the wall and stick?

Then the shit got real. With glassed-over eyes, we, gasp, turned on Network TV and stared into the abyss like the zombies we’ve become so fond of. Living in sweats and leaving the house only to cop more misery at the local market, earn a day’s wage or walk the dog, all the while deleting friends and ranting to everyone who agrees with us, has been like watching a train wreck. Actually, it’s more like being in a train wreck. We’re weak and vulnerable, giving in to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But it’s time to “Snap out of it!” (Thank you Cher).

We’ve done this before. We know the drill and most of the remedies that will cure us of this terrible affliction to which we swear off ever drinking again…#alternativefact. We’re actually pretty good at this. It’s just that we tend to forget how strong and resilient we really are when we are hungover. A Friday night binge give us a little time to pull the sheets over our heads and sleep through it with the occasional break for water, aspirin, and a few trips to the visit the porcelain altar. But this is no Friday night…It’s game day boys and girls and we need to suit up and show up. After all, we’ve done this to ourselves, so it’s time to stop the blame game and get into the vineyard.

That’s right, wake up, strip your bed, take a shower, grab Petunia and head out to the vineyards. These are serious times, so a hair of the dog is necessary, along with eggs fried in bacon grease. Fuck the egg white omelette, the kale salad and dainty lemon wheel…and fuck the mimosas – we’re in recovery mode!

Queen Mary I, Queen of England, born on February 18 – fondly known as “Bloody Mary” due to her religious persecutions during her reign, ordered those who did not agree with her be found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake. Considered delusional by many, she was “thin skinned” and not an effective leader. Fuck Bloody Mary. Instead, start your recovery with “Petunia’s Revenge” – The hairs from this English Bulldog will rival your Dyson and put Bloody Mary to shame:

  • 2 ounces English gin (Tanqueray 10, Plymouth or The Botanist Islay preferred)
  • 3 ounces tomato juice (Zing Zang for extra spicy)
  • 3 ounce beet juice (Bolthouse Farms Daily Roots)
  • ⅛ teaspoon horseradish
  • 8 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 dashes of green hot sauce
  • Large lime wedge
  • Ground black pepper
  • Pickled white asparagus or spicy green beans for garnishRim the glass with lime and ground black pepper, add the first six ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Add to glass and garnish. Drink and move on.

Now head up to wine country and enjoy all of the splendor that February vines have to offer. Those bare, gnarly roots, trunks, and cordons wired to trellises in preparation for canopy management are reminiscent of crucifixes. The streets are uncluttered and wine tasting rooms are abandoned. There’s not an illegal to be seen for miles. Nothing a six-pack and a box of razor blades won’t cure. But wait! What is that glorious glow coming into view? Mother Nature must be playing some sort of joke. It’s Wild Mustard Season and one of the most beautiful displays of vibrant yellow, orange and gold flowers that have unearthed in between the rows of the recently dormant grape trunks reminding us “that this too shall pass”.

wild mustard scene

Mustard seeds were originally planted by the Franciscan missionaries to add beauty to the landscape of churches in Northern California, but their beauty serves a higher purpose. The hearty roots prevent erosion and is now used as a cover crop planted by the vineyards and emerging year after year. The edible flowers are said to taste like broccoli. The stems are edible as well, but are more bitter and help prevent the microscopic worms that can harm the vines. The black seeds are ground and can be made into mustard; the spicier the better against on onslaught of slugs. It won’t be long before these beautiful weeds will be crushed and mulched to give way to those ugly vines where budbreak will soon occur and the vineyard will take on its own unique beauty. Cars and tourist will arrive in droves, restaurants will be packed and “season” will be upon us. Take the time to get out and smell the mustard and pair it will a nice Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc (aka Fume Blanc coined by Robert Mondavi in 1968). The herbal, grassy notes and crisp acidity are as bright as the mustard flowers.

Some of the best vineyards to view this splendor are in Northern Sonoma County, particularly near Alexander Valley, in Geyserville, and along the Russian River. Mustard viewing along Highway 101 in Dry Creek Valley is spectacular and Highway 12 in the Sonoma Valley are notorious. Take a hike through the vineyards, exercise, and get fresh air in your lungs. There are dozens of vineyards that are happy to help you get out of your funk and cure your hangover.

Still feeling a bit hazy? Perhaps Mother Nature needs to pull out the big guns. Just before you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, hidden away in Marin County, are the Steep Ravine Hot Springs. Also known as the Marin Tidal Hot Springs or the Rocky Point Hot Spring, these mineral pools are only revealed at low tide near Stinson Beach. Sulfur fills these pools with hot mineral water and will naturally detoxify and cleanse the poisons infiltrating your mind and body. You may think February is too cold, but a shock to the system will sometimes cure even the most extreme hangover.   Shocking? Yes…but remember, a political hangover is the worst kind there is. A little Hooker’s House Bourbon Rye and Whiskey, aged for seven years in Kentucky, then barreled again in Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir barrels offer a smoky flavor with notes of apricot and Cherry. Bottled by Prohibition Spirits & HelloCello in Sonoma, this small-batch bourbon/rye will warm you right up. Even if you don’t hit the springs, a trip to the tasting room on Arnold Drive in Sonoma is in order for a signature Hooker’s House Hot Toddy or a Certified Organic Artisanal Limoncello. When life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

Greasy food, the “hair of the dog”, water, exercise, fresh air, mineral spas, and numerous other hangover remedies only help alleviate the symptoms of a hangover. But there’s much more work to be done to eradicate “the problem”. The City of San Francisco has announced that it is suing the Grand Cheeto Wizard directly over his Sanctuary City Executive Order to withhold funds and turn city and state employees into federal immigration enforcers, the first city to do so.   Miami, on the other hand, caved and pulled the sheets over their head just hours into the executive order.

Life has certainly given us lemons in the manifestation of a rotten orange.   We’re going through all the stages of grief: Denial…well, it’s really happening and no form of refutation will change it. Put down the whine. Anger…get good and angry, primal scream angry, but use that anger to take action. Bargaining…maybe we can change the Electoral College (we can’t). Depression…the Political Hangover. Acceptance…here we are and this is what is. But acceptance does not mean surrender. It means to assess and motivate, move and make a difference, prepare for the next battle because it’s going to happen tomorrow. We’ve swallowed a bitter pill. Stick your finger down your throat, call your representative, campaign for change and fight like your life depends on it, because it does. Don’t whine, wine…Living well is the best revenge.

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