TASTE: Rodeo Drive Brunch Reveals Hangover Cure

My friends were all very hungover this morning.

After discovering a new rum highball and chowing down on beef and pickle tacos at Tacos and Tequila, I met up with some friends at McCool’s on Main Street in Santa Monica.

There was a cover band and they were very good – playing rock-out-sing-along songs like “You Shook Me All Night Long” – but after a half hour I was ready to leave. It’s a cool spot, but it’s a place where you can’t have a conversation with more than one person at a time. You could be sitting across from someone and not be able to hear what they are saying. That sort of encourages isolation, and even though I love live music, it was time for me to put my feet up.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed myself. Crown Royal on the rocks was a nice choice after eating all that food – whiskey really cleans the mouth out.

Which brings us to this morning when I woke up and felt like a million bucks, despite the full day of drinking and eating. I did not have a hangover, and even though practice makes perfect, I do feel like I’ve discovered the secret.

Today, at the TASTE brunch event on Rodeo Drive, I approached one of the Ciroc tents and the man asked me, “What can I get you?”

I had already tried a coconut vodka and pineapple, a red berry and cranberry, and a vodka lemonade (all good – I really like Ciroc), so I asked him, “Could you just put some of the non-flavored over rocks?”

Then the man who was behind me in line said, “Man, you’re really getting after it,” and the bartender laughed at this as he poured.

All I could do is shrug my shoulders and smile – trying to explain would have been pointless, but I will try my best now.

My old man has passed on to me a lot of good wisdom, but none has been as valuable as his advice on how to beat the bottle: Ditch the mixer and avoid cheap booze.

Seems simple, but look around next time you’re at the bar – most of your friends are drinking 2 ounces of rum with 8 ounces of cola, 2 ounces of vodka with sugar-filled cranberry juice.

Good luck with that in the morning – it’s the sugar that gets you, not the booze. Stack the rocks in the glass and try it without the mixer. Sip slow – notice the way the drink makes you feel – and go from there. Have yourself a generous glass of water before bed, and you might just rethink your “no drinking during the week” pledge.

Remember, it wasn’t that you had a half-dozen spots of rum, it was that you drank six cans of coke.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to go off on that tangent – I guess I’m tired of seeing my friends waste their weekends on the couch because they overdosed on soda and sugar.

Another good solution for a hangover: Stuff your face with brunch dishes from 40 of Los Angeles’ top restaurants.

Rodeo Drive was looking absolutely beautiful today – from the calming rose gardens to the clean streets and decked-out women. It was eighty degrees with a nice wind, and when I found the Rock Sake tent and a spot in the shade I adjusted my sunglasses and put my right heel on my left knee.

Nothing like people-watching on one of America’s most famous streets.


Rock Sake had two types to sample: The Junmai Daiginjo and Cloud. Both are absolutely fantastic – look for them next time you’re out for sushi. The Junmai refreshes and goes down clean; the Cloud is literally cloudy in appearance and has a deeper sake flavor. Here’s how you decide: If it’s cold, drink Cloud. If it’s hot, drink the Junmai.

Waffles de Liege served an amazing waffle. How good was it? They were serving it without syrup. The most impressive thing was that it did not dry your mouth out – the dough was very moist and the batter sweet. This is one damn good food truck.

Fig & Olive offered some bite-sized appetizers, the highlight a prosciutto with a fig and goat cheese.

Note: I know some of you may never visit these restaurants, but they certainly have to get your wheels turning for recipes, no? (Or at the very least, if you see something similar on another menu, don’t be scared!)

I think the Napa Valley Grille was my favorite – they had Porcini Mushroom Soup w/ White Truffle Oil and Grilled Grafton with Cheddar Cheese, roasted tomatoes, and basil.

I mean, I feel kind of silly – I saw all the newspaper press and foodies trying to judge the dishes, trying to figure out which was up to par and which was ripe for the dissing.

I guess that’s the beauty of being a member of the press – the luxury of a critical and judgemental attitude – but as Scott Conant bluntly told me, we shouldn’t apologize for having standards.

I just hope they stop judging long enough to appreciate, and I’ve got to be honest: All the vendors were up to par at the brunch on Rodeo Drive.

Combine that with a historic and beautiful street, and you’ve got a reason to come to Los Angeles.

Next up, Dessert After Dark.

Five bucks says I complain tomorrow about how all the sugar made me feel like hell.



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