Have a hangover-free New Year's Day

I'm a bona fide teetotaler, a rare breed who has never had a sip of alcohol pass my virgin lips. I live dangerously when I down a Pellegrino with a splash of Rose's Lime Juice. Me giving tips about cocktail parties and hangovers is like a Rabbi giving advice about preparing a holiday ham. Fortunately, my bartender buddies have kept me up to speed so I can help you navigate your way through Cocktail Parties and New Year's Eve Hangover Management 101.

"Up to the lips, over the gums, lookout tummy, here she comes."

Whether you're a host or a guest, there are some simple rules to help you pass your cocktail party exam with flying colors.

Have oodles of ice for chilling bottles and serving drinks on the rocks, and plenty of the basics - white and red wines, vodka, whiskey, gin, brandy, bourbon, a variety of juices and water.

Serve strong coffee or espresso to the designated driver for a refreshing jolt on the ride home. Good advice for everyone is to choose your poison. Want to be festive? Stay with champagne. Prefer hard liquor? Straight, on-the-rocks or in mixed cocktails, but make sure you stay away from any carbonated drinks. Even soft-drink bubbles speed up the rate at which alcohol enters your bloodstream making the liver work overtime.

Serve or bring to the party a nice variety of finger foods like dips and veggies, heavy hors d'oeuvres and, of course, sweets. My favorites are a bruschetta bar with a smorgasbord of toppings like olive tapenade and a tomato basil combo, chicken and seafood skewers with spicy dipping sauces, dim sum, sushi and always something chocolate!

Finally, cocktail party etiquette and safety call for no children, no inappropriate flirting and absolutely no drinking and driving. Always have the phone number of a local cab company on hand. Oh, and remember to toast each other as you ring in the New Year (or earlier in the evening if you're the type who turns into a pumpkin if you stay out past midnight).

Now for the hangover part.

If you're planning on imbibing on New Year's Eve, here's what the gurus advise: As preventive measures, drink slowly so less alcohol is absorbed by your brain and bloodstream, and don't drink on an empty stomach. American Indians claim that eating six raw almonds before drinking will curb intoxication, while an African remedy calls for eating peanut butter prior to the act. Sport drinks like Gatorade or Propel are great bedtime beverages to ward off the hangover monsters or simply drink a couple of glasses of water before going to sleep to counteract the dehydrating effects of the alcohol.

If you failed to do those ounces of prevention, here is your pound of cure: Try some holistic approaches like eating an apple. The pectin is a great detoxifier. Or have a banana which is rich in potassium to counter the effects of the liquor. Fruit juice and honey are loaded with the healthier sugar called fructose that acts like nature's Roto-Rooter, flushing out any remnants of alcohol in the bloodstream. Also a bowl of chicken soup will replenish the salt and potassium that liquor robs from your body. As Grandma always said, "It wouldn't hurt!"

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