Could it be true?! No more hangovers is a tantalising notion, a Holy Grail for many drinkers. But how could this happen, and what would it mean for the world of booze and wine?

Join us as we dive headlong into the enthralling world of hangover hacks (including at least one credible ‘remedy’) and explore the new breed of so-called functional drinks, which promise to deliver the buzz of booze without the bad effects.

But do these functional drinks and hangover hacks actually work? We put our bodies on the line in the name of research – and deliver our verdict.

Illuminating the subject is Professor David Nutt, an expert of global renown on the effects of alcohol on the brain who’s developing a novel synthetic alternative to alcohol (Alcarelle) as well as a range of functional botanical drinks (Sentia).

That said, he freely admits to enjoying a glass or two of full-bodied red at the weekend…and boldly identifies, ‘the best way to minimise a hangover’. Gold dust!

‘Alcohol is the ultimate social drug,’ comments Nutt. ‘But we can improve on alcohol…’

During the course of this intriguing discussion, we consider the role and effects of adaptogens as well as the vital but largely unknown GABA neurotransmitter and how the GABA system might be crucial to the new wave of functional drinks.

Somehow we also manage to touch on horse-riding, space ships, drunken rats, expensive spas, the Nobel Prize, protozoa, hyper-glutamatergic state, the microbiome and whipping yourself with a birch branch in a sauna.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – be it hangover remedies or your experiences with functional drinks. Give us a shout! And cheers to you.


Links and Notes

  • Interested in now or low alcohol alternatives to booze? Check out our previous Dry Drinking episode – or the shorter live episode A Drink to Dry
  • It may interest you to know that David Nutt’s daughter runs a wine bar in Ealing (west London) called Abbotshill
  • Here’s a link to the article on the ‘sober-up jab’
  • GABA is an abbreviation of gamma-aminobutyric acid
  • You can find our podcast on all major audio players: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon and beyond. The button below will redirect you automatically to this episode on an audio platform on your device.

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We cite the following books in this episode – and touch briefly on the hangover ‘remedy’ cited in Hungover. Both come recommended.

Hungover, The Morning After, and One Man’s Quest for a Cure, Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall (Blink Publishing)

Drink? The New Science of Alcohol and Your Health, Professor David Nutt (Yellow Kite)


Adaptogens are a fascinating topic we don’t get the time to explore in great depth in the episode.

Essentially, they’re plant or herb extracts that are used to manage stress on the body and stabilise body function – promoting vitality and positive mood. (Apparently they do this by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is important to the body’s stress responses, hormonal balance and metabolism.)

Many of them are known as traditional herbal remedies and are sold as food supplements, teas or tinctures – and now they’re being used in functional drinks.

Adaptogens include things like Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), Tulsi (holy basil) and Rhodiola – all of these crop up in Sentia, for example.

Functional Drink Recipes

Below are the functional spirit cocktails we made for the programme. We road-tested quite a few to work out our favourites! Some of them are suggestions you can find on these functional drinks’ websites. But some we’ve tweaked or just made up ourselves.

Edi and Tonic

  • 50ml Edi Spirited (£41 for 70cl)
  • 225ml Mediterranean tonic (to taste)
  • Serve in balloon glass with ice, slice of lemon and sprig of rosemary to finish

Sentia Sun

  • 50ml Sentia Red (£29.50 for 50cl)
  • 100ml pink grapefruit juice (strained)
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 40ml passionfruit purée
  • 150ml Double Dutch pink grapefruit soda
  • Serve in large wine glass with lime slice or rind to garnish

Livener Bellini

  • 20ml Three Spirit Livener (£25 for 50cl)
  • 20ml passionfruit purée
  • 200ml of Blurred Vines Spark (to taste)
  • Serve in white wine glass

Sentia Spice

  • 50ml Sentia Black (£29.50 for 50cl)
  • 50ml kombucha (Peter’s is made with ginger, agave syrup and pink grapefruit juice)
  • 175ml Fentiman’s ginger beer
  • Serve in tumbler with ice and orange to finish

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