We’ve all been there. Waking up the morning after bleary-eyed with a roaring headache and dry mouth. We turned over to the other side of the bed, pulled the covers tighter around us, and shut our eyes to the world as if that would make us feel better. Yes, I feel confident saying we’ve all had a hangover at least once or twice. And our hangover recovery methods always vary.

Chugging a cup of hot coffee, taking an ice-cold shower, even drinking another beer à la the hair of the dog, we’ve done it all to try to erase the one-too-many DIPAs we pounded the night before and last-call nightcap of barleywine we thought would help put us to sleep. Well, it did, and it also gave us that lingering taste of regret stuck to the roof of our mouths when we woke up the following day.

But do these homemade remedies really work?

Everyone seems to swear by their own cocktail of consolation. Whenever I travel to a beer conference (i.e., a guaranteed two to three days of moderate drinking), I have a dedicated regimen to erase the night’s festivities. I wake up early, go for a four- or five-mile run, sweat it out, take a long shower, and then load up on a carb-heavy breakfast to sustain me throughout the day. Drink, sleep, run, rinse, repeat.

For Brian John, CEO at Safety Shot, a new drink touted as the world’s first alcohol detoxifier, it was a cheeseburger and a Coca-Cola.

Charlie Carrigan, who now swears by ZBiotics, a patented genetically engineered probiotic that helps you wake up fresh after a day of drinking, says he’d typically pop a couple of Tylenol.

But those were all Band-Aids.

What if something existed to help our bodies process alcohol better and more efficiently?

Well, this is the twenty-first century, and while mainstream hoverboards don’t quite exist yet, it turns out that drinks and patches to help us feel better during that morning-after mess do.

Those like ZBiotics, Safety Shot, or Perfect Patch Transdermal, whose Nicorette Gum-like patch delivers hangover-fighting vitamins and nutrients to you.

Now, let’s get one thing straight here. The best way to prevent a hangover is to not drink at all. Period.

But seeing as we enjoy drinking in moderation and understand that we might get a little giddy when visiting one of our “Best Breweries of 2023,” how can we better prepare ourselves?

We tried or spoke to people who tried each of these products to get to the bottom of the age-old question: Can you do something to help you feel better after a night of drinking?

Editor’s Note: There is no cure or prevention for a hangover. All of the products listed here can only try to help you feel better the next morning. We want to make it very clear that none of the products listed here are a replacement for making smart choices, and any of the opinions on them expressed here are from our personal experience. Please drink responsibly and in moderation. Additionally, this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

First, What Causes a Hangover?

zbioitics lab testing hangoer
Photography courtesy of ZBiotics

It stands to reason that if making beer relies on science, creating a hangover does the same.

We’ll try to break it down in layperson’s terms here.

“The primary culprit behind hangovers is ethanol, a toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism,” writes Perfect Patch Transdermal in a blog. “As our bodies work to break down ethanol, it produces acetaldehyde, a compound responsible for many hangover symptoms.”

Anna Lamb, marketing manager for ZBiotics, says there is a big misconception about hangovers and dehydration. “That’s not the primary root of why you feel bad the next morning,” she says.

Instead, she explains that the tyrant of all our problems is actually that pesky byproduct of alcohol called acetaldehyde. “It is a toxin that accumulates in both your gut and in your liver,” she says. “Acetaldehyde is nasty stuff; it makes you feel all those feelings the next morning.”

David Sandler, CMO at Safety Shot, points out that many factors go into what causes a hangover. “Some are probably even unknown at this point,” he says. But generally, what happens, according to Sandler, is that “as alcohol continues to fill up in your blood, you’re not able to break it down, and all of that residual alcohol hanging out starts to affect many of your various receptors, especially in the brain.”

Almost like those last unwieldy party guests who you just want to get the f**k out but won’t, these alcohol byproducts stick around, wreaking havoc by “slowing you down, causing some of that depressant activity, causing you to lose balance and control, [feel] dizziness, and so forth,” says Sandler.

Your body needs time to break down these toxins and return you to homeostasis.

But since you aren’t clearing the alcohol fast enough, it just sort of sits in your body. “Then you start to fall asleep, and you’re still processing alcohol poorly, and that’s causing all this disruption,” says Sandler. “So when you wake up, you feel like crap.”

Now the degree to which you “feel like crap” depends on many factors—how fast you drink, your age, how much you drink, what you drink, for example. To boot, everyone’s body is different, determining how fast or slow you process alcohol and contributing to the severity of your hangover.

Which is why universal homeopathic remedies are, for the most part, utter nonsense.

Mythbusting Old-School Hangover Recovery Remedies

golden rules shower beer
Photography courtesy of John A. Paradiso

We hate to break it to you, but drinking a hot cup of coffee will not help your hangover recovery despite what Hollywood movies show you.

“Hair of the dog, eating some greasy food, taking medication, drinking coffee, or pounding a Gatorade—all these things are too little too late,” says Perfect Patch Transdermal Marketing Manager Jacob Spilberg. “It took time—hours of drinking—to get yourself into the situation of a hangover. People think they can just way up and apply some sort of magic, but, at that point, it’s too little too late.”

According to Perfect Patch Transdermal, caffeine can temporarily boost your energy but ultimately dehydrate your body, further adding to your symptoms.

Taking a cold shower or drinking again in the morning (or drinking a beer in the shower, for that matter) won’t help things either.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “While this might temporarily minimize some symptoms, it could contribute to and prolong the malaise and other symptoms of the hangover.”

As Sandler puts it, “The hair of the dog actually just probably keeps you in a euphoric enough state to get re-drunk, so you don’t ever get to that hangover stage.” But eventually, your body will need to come down.

Similarly, some people will eat greasy food or drink electrolytes the next day to try and replenish what they feel their body lost.

“Research has not found a correlation between the extent of electrolyte disruptions and the severity of hangovers, or the impact of added electrolytes on hangover severity,” writes the NIAAA. “In most people, the body will quickly restore electrolyte balance once the effects of alcohol subside.”

At the end of the day, none of these methods help your body internally clear the alcohol any faster.

“You can’t speed up the rate at which alcohol breaks down. … None of those remedies are going to improve the rate of alcohol being processed by the liver,” says Sandler. “And that’s the big issue, right?”

Experts’ Top Three Tips for Hangover Recovery

zbiotics beer hangover recovery
Photography courtesy of ZBiotics

While you can’t stop a hangover (beyond not drinking), our experts have some tips for you on your hangover recovery.

“One of my big pieces of advice always is to drink lots of liquid,” says Sandler. “Fasting probably isn’t smart either.”

Lamb agrees. She advises to consume water in between drinks and to drink on a full stomach, which is “one hundred percent proven to help,” she says.

For her, getting a good night’s sleep is also essential. “Try to really stop drinking alcohol a couple of hours before going to bed,” she says.

But at the end of the day, even all these tips can’t help your body break down the byproducts of alcohol any faster.

So, of course, if you’re looking to feel fresher the next morning, you might want to give one of these products a shot.

Safety Shot

safety shot hangover recovery
Photography courtesy of Safety Shot

As the world’s first alcohol detoxifier, Safety Shot’s formula lowers your blood alcohol level within the first thirty minutes and helps you feel better the following day.

“We just help people recover faster,” says John. “We speed up that process.”

Created so that you “never lose a day,” Safety Shot makes sure “you’re starting out and feeling better,” says Sandler, who wants to clarify that Safety Shot is not a cure or a prevention. “It’s simply designed to help you improve the way you feel and reduce the effects of alcohol.”

Launched in late 2023, Safety Shot sold out on the very first day. Which tells you all you need to know about just how much people want something tested and proven to make you feel better after a night of drinking.

How Does It Work?

According to Sandler, Safety Shot’s blend of ingredients that are “safe, well-researched, and most importantly, allowed by the FDA for regular use … help reduce alcohol from being absorbed into the blood.”

Safety Shot has performed hundreds of non-clinical trials using breathalyzers in many different ways—before, during, and after the consumption of alcohol. “We’ve seen great results every time,” Sandler says.

What Safety Shot doesn’t do is help the liver speed up its breakdown of alcohol byproducts. “Simply, we’re looking at ways to help remove alcohol,” says Sandler. “We’re actually clearing some of that alcohol.”

By reducing the amount of alcohol absorbed, Safety Shot “gives you clarity and mental focus and gets rid of that brain fog and dizziness,” says Sandler.

In fact, John says that the nootropic drink, a classification for natural compounds that improve cognitive functions, will make you feel clear-headed and focused even if you’re not drinking. “If you enjoy Safety Shot without alcohol, it will just make you feel more focused and energized,” he says. “[But] it’s not like an energy drink that makes you racy and crash.”

Additionally, Sandler says Safety Shot includes a mix of vitamins and minerals to “keep those replenished so that you are feeling optimal even as you’re reducing some of that load.”

safety shot hangover recovery
Photography courtesy of Safety Shot

How Do You Use It?

For best effects, you want to drink a Safety Shot at the end of your night before you go to sleep. This will “make you feel better faster than you normally would without it,” says John, who also mentions that even if you forget to drink a Safety Shot before your head hits the pillow, you can still drink one first thing in the morning.

“My wife does this from time to time when she drinks wine and wakes up with a headache, not feeling great,” he says. She’ll snap up a Safety Shot in the morning and drink half the can, and within fifteen minutes, she’ll buzz around the house and off to her exercise classes; she feels fantastic!”

Because Safety Shot blocks the body from absorbing alcohol, if you drink one before consuming alcohol, John says you probably won’t get a buzz at all.

So Sandler keeps it simple: Before, during, or after, depending on how much of a buzz you want.

Drink Safety Shot “Before, if you don’t want to get a buzz, during to limit the amount, and then after, you’ll get your buzz and then the reduction,” he says.

The Verdict?

“Nobody believes it works, that this little can does what we say,” says John.

Heard! Well, we decided to put Safety Shot to the test ourselves on several occasions—the first after our team visited Dokkaebier and Cellarmaker one Friday afternoon.

For about five hours, I consumed around five beers. It was hard to nail down precisely because we enjoyed a bunch of little tasters at Dokkaebier.

Admittedly, I forgot to drink Safety Shot that night after I got home, so I took John’s advice and chugged half a can when I woke up in the morning with a minor headache.

Honestly, I was buzzing around the house cleaning within half an hour. I can see what John means. I had harnessed energy that eventually petered out without crashing.

The second time, our social media manager and I spent a day during SF Beer Week hitting up a bunch of breweries, starting at Sante Adairius, visiting Wondruous, spending time at Cellarmaker in Berkeley, and finishing at Holy Water in the city.

I’d say over the course of seven hours, we probably enjoyed five to six or so beers.

This time, after a full day of imbibing, I remembered as soon as I got home to open a Safety Shot.

I drank half, ate some food, and promptly fell asleep. The next morning, I felt right as rain.

In fact, I even met up with some friends later at Ghost Town Brewing for a beer and to watch the Super Bowl. Mission accomplished.

I will say that Safety Shot is an acquired taste—sort of like apple juice and Red Bull combined. I didn’t mind drinking it the morning after, but right after drinking kind of threw my palate off a little.

It’s also a moderately sized slim 12oz can, so I wonder if Safety Shot would consider creating smaller-sized versions that would be easier for you to take out on the town and consume. Just my two cents.

Where Can I Get It!?

If you want to try Safety Shot for yourself, you can find it on Amazon or their website for $19.99 for a four-pack or $79.69 for a sixteen-pack.


zbiotics beer hangover recovery
Photography courtesy of ZBiotics

The world’s first genetically engineered probiotic, ZBiotics, “breaks down the byproduct of alcohol while you’re drinking so you will feel normal the next day; you will feel fresh,” says Lamb. “[You can] wake up the next morning and actually do something with your day and be productive and not have a couple of drinks the night before taking that away.”

Lamb says ZBiotics, launched in 2019, is perfect for parents with kids who want to wake up in the morning refreshed enough to care for their family. Or for those gym rats who want to ensure they’re ready to hit the weights the next day. Really anyone who is “trying to optimize every part of their life,” she says.

As the first and only live and genetically engineered probiotic on the market, ZBiotics is unlike anything else out there right now, according to Lamb.

Invented by Zack Abbott, a Ph.D. microbiologist who spent five years in a lab developing the formula, ZBiotics is just water, flavoring, and a common bacteria called B. subtilis, often found in foods like natto (fermented Japanese soybeans). “It’s a very common bacteria that you eat every day,” says Lamb, who points out they don’t shy away from sharing with folks that ZBiotics comes from a lab.

In fact, they embrace it.

“On each bottle, it says ‘proudly GMO,’” shares Lamb. “[ZBioticds] is made using genetic engineering, which we want people to know and buy into because that’s why it works.”

How Does It Work?

Quite simply, the active, good probiotic in ZBiotics specifically targets the toxic byproduct of alcohol accumulating in your gut as you drink, breaking it down and helping your body process everything more efficiently. You can check out the ZBiotics blog here for a full, seriously intensive breakdown.

zbiotics cocktails
Photography courtesy of ZBiotics

How Do You Use It?

Make Zbiotics your first drink.

Just tip back the small 15mL bottle in one go before your first alcoholic beverage of the night.

Since it’s a live organism, ZBiotics needs time to wake up in your gut, explains Lamb. “It doesn’t need to be hours before, but it should be about five minutes before your first drink,” she says. “But if you have a couple of [alcoholic] drinks first, no problem, but you should take it at least before more alcohol is consumed.”

Scientifically, though, for the best results, you want to make sure the common bacteria in ZBiotics are in your gut before drinking.

The Verdict?

Like Sandler and John at Safety Shot, Lamb quickly points out that ZBiotics “is not a magic cure-all,” but it does target those toxins from drinking alcohol in your gut to help you feel better, hopefully.

While we didn’t try ZBiotics ourselves, we found someone who did in quite possibly the best testing ground—Oktoberfest.

Yes, that’s right, Charlie Carrigan took his little bottles of ZBiotics all the way to Germany for the world’s largest drinking event that sees, on average, six million people pass through every year.

Consuming an average of four to five steins a day, Carrigan wrote to us in an email that he made it a habit to pop a bottle of ZBiotics every morning before heading to the festival grounds.

“Oktoberfest is fun no matter what, but it would have been quite difficult to attend on consecutive days without ZBiotics,” he wrote.

Although Carrigan had become a ZBiotics believer before Oktoberfest, his friends had never tried it. So he gave a bottle to all three. “I just told them to thank me the next day,” wrote Carrigan. “The following morning, when we all woke up in our Airbnb, they were all surprised at how decent they felt, which was my cue to remind them of the previous morning!”

Where Can I Get It!?

You can find ZBiotics on Amazon or their website in a three-pack, six-pack, and twelve-pack format for between $30-$108, depending on the size.

Perfect Patch Transdermal THRIVE Hangover Recovery Patch

perfect patch transdermal thrive hangover recovery patch
Photography courtesy of Perfect Patch Transdermal

Perfect Patch Transdermal’s THRIVE Hangover Recovery Patch includes “high-quality, organically enriched vitamins that aid your body in recovering from alcohol,” according to the company’s website. “The patch enhances your body’s ability to detoxify from alcohol and is proven in most people to shorten or eliminate the after-effects experienced after a night of drinking.”

Unlike the other items on this list, Perfect Patch is a slim patch that you can carry around in your bag or wallet whenever you need it.

Spilberg says, “The idea here is to have some foresight. If you know you’re going to be drinking and can’t stand hangovers but still want to party with friends, keep the patches on you, apply one before [drinking], and basically all these vitamins and minerals are absorbed through the skin.”

The founder, Mike Korf, came up with the idea after “I used to get bad hangovers back in the day when I overindulged,” he told us. “I started studying what ways you could offset the onset of a hangover without affecting the initial effects of alcohol (the buzz).”

His research into Chinese medicine led him to the idea that drinking depletes certain vitamins and herbs. “That got me thinking about non-intrusive ways to deliver those vitamins back into the system without consuming nasty powders, pills, and or drinks,” Korf says. “Hence, the transdermal patch loaded with those vitamins was born.”

perfect patch transdermal thrive hangover recovery patch
Photography courtesy of Perfect Patch Transdermal

How Does It Work?

Packed with Vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, Folic Acid, and green tea, the THRIVE Hangover Recovery Patch steadily delivers these restorative organics directly into your bloodstream.

According to Perfect Patch Transdermal, this is key because “bypassing the digestive system, which can often degrade or limit the absorption of these elements, means you get the maximum benefit from each ingredient,” writes the company. “Furthermore, having all these nutrients in one convenient patch eliminates the need to take multiple supplements or pills, making it a simple and efficient solution for hangover recovery.”

Spilberg adds that, “If you read the list, it’s all stuff you’ve heard of. A lot of these [vitamins and minerals] help break down alcohol, helping you feel more energized and shaking off that feeling of tiredness.”

One of the cool things about this product is that the company offers a Certificate of Analysis with every patch you buy. “From the lab, they test the patch afterward to make sure the vitamins we say are in there are in [the patch] at the levels [we say] they are,” says Spilburg, noting that each patch is individually sealed and numbered, so you can always go to the site and check the lab certification.

perfect patch transdermal thrive hangover recovery patch
Photography courtesy of Perfect Patch Transdermal

How Do You Use It?

“The patch works best when applied at least one hour before beginning your EPIC journey,” as written directly on the box. “A clean, dry area on the upper extremities is best.”

Spilberg says to apply the patch right before you start drinking for the best results. However, “If you’re a couple of drinks in and realize you have a long night ahead, you’re better off applying the path then than not at all.”

While Spilberg says you can place the patch anywhere on your body “that is free of hair, and easy for you to access…as long as it’s in complete contact with your skin,” the company does recommend the outer arm, “but it is not a hard and fast rule,” he says. “If you don’t want people to know you’re wearing a patch, you can place it anywhere on your torso where it can be hidden by clothing. Just don’t forget where you put it!”

But even if you do, not to worry, Spilberg says they recommend removing the patch before 24 hours elapses. “By the time morning comes, you will have absorbed all the nutrients available in the patch, and it is simply best to remove it at that point,” he says.

The Verdict?

Spilberg did send us a sample of the THRIVE Hangover Recovery Patch to try ourselves. I applied a patch to my arm before attending the 2024 MaltCon Reception at Admiral Maltings in Alameda, CA.

After enjoying three lovely beers over the course of the night, I can share that the next morning I felt energized and alert. Whereas after a night of drinking, I may have felt sluggish and tired, a day after using the patch had me feeling vibrant and alert. In fact, I spent the entire day sitting at my computer working with no problems at all.

According to Spilberg, they’ve sold thousands of patches, with many people coming back for a third or fourth time. “If it was all smoke and mirrors and wasn’t working, that wouldn’t be the case, and we wouldn’t have repeat business,” he says.

Where Can I Get It!?

You can find the THRIVE Hangover Recovery Patch on their website, available in a five-pack for $18, a ten-pack for $24.99, a thirty-pack for $49.99, and a one-hundred-pack for $159.99.