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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.


November 8, 2016

There are many suggestions and recipes for hangover cures. Some say to go with, “the hair of the dog that bit you.” Others swear by concoctions with tomato juice, raw eggs, and various random ingredients. Still others have certain foods that work for them.

Personally, I stopped drinking in 1983, so I haven’t had to worry about an alcohol hangover for over 33 years. For that I am grateful. Though in my drinking days, my go-to hangover cure— when I needed one— was a hamburger.

Looking back it seems strange. I am a huge fan of breakfast, yet I never ate “true breakfasts” back then. Of course I could sleep later in those days, too. If I was on my way to class or my job waiting tables, I would drive through the only fast food restaurant that served a hamburger in the morning and scarf it down in a matter of minutes. That, and a Coke, seemed to do the trick.

Years ago the Popeye’s Fried Chicken franchise here served breakfast. My go-to there was a spicy chicken tender on a biscuit. It was really good. Food snobs rail on fast food all of the time but there are a couple of undeniable truths out there:  Popeye’s chicken is good, and Popeye’s biscuits are good. I wish they still offered spicy chicken in the morning.

I sit here writing this column at 5:30 a.m. on Election Day. Two things are certain: 1.) I am 20 hours past my deadline. 2.) No matter who wins this election today, we are all going to have a political hangover.

It won’t be an alcohol-induced hangover (though 48-49% on the losing end might be reaching for an Alka Seltzer), it will be an altogether different hangover. For my part, I am just looking forward to the end of this thing.

Elections such as these affect business. I have been in the business for 36 years and have noticed in the past few national elections that within a month of a hotly contested and contentious contest, people’s spending patterns shift. It’s the overall mood of the electorate. People seem to be on edge and angry. It’s a political hangover waiting to happen.

There are many factors that can affect traffic in restaurants. Football season can be good and bad. If there is a big game in town business goes up. If the big games are in other towns, everyone hits the road. In the early days of our restaurant we were only one of three restaurants in town. If someone had a large cocktail party we would have a slow night. As the restaurant offerings grew, that seemed to change.

There are many types of hangovers other than the alcohol-induced variety. The aforementioned political hangovers seem to be the worst, but those don’t come around too often. Sports hangovers are a biggie. This football season has been a rough ride for a couple of the three big in-state schools and many games have resulted in next-day hangovers of the alcohol-induced variety. They have also produced hangovers of the educational variety, which is the result of realizing your team, which showed so much promise at the beginning of the year, is about to turn in a mediocre season. It’s something to which we have grown accustomed.

The main offender in my world these days is a food hangover. It’s a real thing. Some meals you feel worse an hour after eating them and you immediately regret your food choices. Others are next-morning events just like the alcohol-related kind.

I once ate a 32-course meal at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. It took me three days to recover from that one. Several years ago I was with a group of my managers in Chicago during National Restaurant Show week. I don’t remember what we were researching then, but I do remember visiting four restaurants in one evening and eating four entire multi-course meals. We were so stuffed at the end of the final meal that one of my managers and I walked the four miles back to our hotel at 1:00 a.m. in downtown Chicago. Walking off the meal was the only thing that saved us the next morning.

Ultimately, I am glad that I don’t have to deal with traditional hangovers any longer. They were pretty rough when I was 21-years old. I can’t imagine how I would feel as a 55-year old. I am not a prude, nor am I against alcohol being served on any form. Just the opposite—I sell alcohol, and a lot of it. It’s what will put my kids through college. Though we sell more food than alcohol, so we offer a cure, too.

One thing is for certain, I will be glad when this election cycle is over. This hangover might take a while to walk off.


Kentucky Beer Cheese

1 pound  sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

1 pound Swiss cheese, finely shredded

1 tsp dry mustard

1 /4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 /4 tsp hot sauce

1 /2 tsp fresh minced garlic

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup dark beer


Place all ingredients into bowl of electric mixer and mix well using a paddle attachment.

Divide mixture into six 8-ounce containers wrap them well. Age the beer cheese for four to five days before serving.

Before serving, allow the cheese to come to room temperature.

Serve with crackers or toasted rye bread points.

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