Kilroy’s Bracer

Charles H. Baker, Jr., does not appear to have been a particularly light drinker. When you’re as fond of your liquor as he was, the subject of hangover cures assumes paramount interest.

Baker’s favored remedy seems to have been the hair of the dog, sort of. The Gentleman’s Companion includes a list of “TWENTY and SEVEN PICKER-UPPERS for the Nineteenth Hole, which Can not only Enable Us to Greet the New Day Undismayed but May—on Occasion—Save a Life.” (In fact, the list includes 33 such picker-uppers, but who’s counting?) Baker advises:

There are times in every man’s life when, through one reason or both, a man feels precisely like Death warmed up. In such sorry plight there is but one thing to do if we do not wish to sit and suffer through a whole day waiting for the cool hand of normalcy to stroke our dry and fevered brow—a Picker-Upper.

He goes on to say, about a page later, that his Picker-Uppers represent an attempt to help mankind “graduate from undiluted hair of the dog that bit him, to something less regurgitative, and shocking to the whole mental and nervous network.” He’s not just a cocktail writer, you see. He’s a philanthropist.

With Baker’s thinking in mind (but without a hangover to ease), I decided to try the Kilroy’s Bracer, in part because I thought it might work well as a regular cocktail and not just a picker-upper. The formula:

  • 1 1/2 jiggers cognac (2 1/4 oz Park Borderies Single Vineyard)
  • 2 tsp lime or lemon juice (lime juice)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 tsp anis or anisette (Luxardo Anisette)

Shake with shaved ice, strain into a goblet along with some of the ice, and top with club soda.

As a cocktail, this is a total dud, unless your idea of a good cocktail is a glass of slightly eggy, fizzy anisette. As a picker-upper, though, it has real promise. It’s easy to drink, contains a healthy (?) slug of booze, and tastes vaguely medicinal in a potentially curative sort of way. If you’re going to be irresponsible and ease your hangover by drinking more, this isn’t a bad way to do it.

So, as a picker-upper—but only as a picker-upper—I heartily endorse the Kilroy’s Bracer.

Kilroy's Bracer: ★★★★☆ 

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