History of the Prairie Oyster

A classic cocktail that promises to cure even the most terrible of hangovers, the Prairie Oyster is not as popular as it once was. An alternative to the more widely known Bloody Mary, this recipe even shares some of the same ingredients. It is made up of cognac, tomato juice, tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, raw egg yolk, vinegar, salt and pepper, giving it more of a breakfast vibe that will settle your stomach and reignite your drunken state from the night before!

Who Created the Prairie Oyster?

Nobody is quite sure where this comprehensive recipe originated from, but historians place it in New England in the late 1800s. It was featured in The Queen Cookery Books in 1903, a series of recipe books that was written by  S. Beaty-Pownall in England. In this volume, the drink was credited to "a plainsman of the Wild West for the benefit of a sick comrade". Apparently, that comrade was suffering from a fever that only an oyster could cure. The plainsman attempted to recreate that oyster by putting some vinegar and Worcestershire sauce at the bottom of a wine glass and then carefully adding the broken yolk of a raw egg before dusting with a little salt and pepper.

These days, the drink has been made arguably more palatable with the addition of cognac and is not an approved medicine for any kind of fever! However, if you are suffering with a hangover and have the ability of mind to put this concoction together, we would love to know if it revives you!

The Science Behind the Hangover Cure

The reason why this drink is thought to relieve a hangover is down to the addition of the raw egg. The yolk contains cysteine-s, which breaks down the acetaldehyde that occurs in the liver after you have been drinking to cause hangover-havoc in the body. By speeding up the detoxification of this chemical, the body can get back to full health much more quickly.

The other ingredients are just as important, however, since they help to replace the salts and electrolytes that are lost through excessive urination as you drink. Of course, the cognac just gives you temporary relief by taking you back a stage in the hangover process. If you leave this ingredient out of your cocktail, you might get rid of the hangover, rather than delay it, but we think you'll struggle to drink the virgin version!

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Bartender's top tip

Balance is key in mixology. Always measure ingredients. A dash less or more can transform a drink. Experiment with fresh garnishes; they can elevate even the simplest cocktails to new heights.

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