Last Updated on May 25, 2023
Music, dancing, feasts, parades, and loads of booze—one of America’s most well-loved celebrations should come to mind.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by over half of Americans and typically involves downing generous amounts of green Irish drinks, beers, and cocktails. In fact, beer sales go up by more than 150%, so it’s no surprise that St. Patty’s day ranks as one of the top three drinking holidays in the US.
Since alcohol is almost synonymous with this holiday, you may have already experienced your fair share of hangovers from it. One day you’re cheering and chugging; the next, you’re nursing a headache, battling nausea, and feeling completely under the weather.
Alcohol can lead to hangovers by interfering with the natural processes in your body. Alcohol can trigger your body’s immune system reaction and inflammatory response and may contribute to dehydration, low blood sugar levels, electrolyte imbalances, and poor sleep. Cumulatively, these effects may lead to symptoms of a hangover.
In this article, we’ll explore 5 mindful drinking tips that will help you enjoy St. Patrick’s Day without setting yourself up for a monster of a hangover the morning after.
How Much Can I Drink On St. Patrick’s Day Without Risking a Hangover?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any magic formula or guideline dictating exactly how much you can drink before you’re bound to get a hangover.
Research has, in fact, pointed out that how much alcohol you drink isn’t the primary indicator of how likely you are to wind up with a hangover. Instead, what you should keep tabs on is how much alcohol you drink compared to what’s usual for you, whatever that usual amount is.
The more alcohol you consume than you normally would, the higher your risk of experiencing a hangover. Thus, drinking holidays like St. Patty’s Day are notoriously linked to hangovers due to the unusually high amounts of alcohol people would consume during the celebration.
That said, abstaining from alcohol might not be the solution for everyone. That’s where mindful drinking comes into the picture as a way to minimize your risk of a hangover during celebrations and festivities that have alcohol in the mix.
6 Mindful Drinking Tips To Avoid a St. Patty’s Day Hangover
In contrast to the black-or-white, all-or-nothing mindset, mindful drinking takes the middle-ground approach, empowering you to take charge of your drinking habits and enjoy alcohol without its negative repercussions.
Here are 5 mindful drinking tips to help you avoid a St. Patrick’s Day hangover. Keep these in mind, and you (hopefully) won’t need an ice pack and aspirin to tide you through the following day!
Tip #1: Opt for low-alcohol or non-alcoholic St. Patrick’s Day drinks.
If you’re considering cutting back, or you want to stop drinking beer entirely, you can swap out regular St. Patrick’s Day Drinks for lower-alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages.
For instance, you can replace a regular Guinness beer with the non-alcoholic version of it (Guinness 0.0). Alternatively, you may opt for a low-alcohol stout of a different brand to substitute the Guinness beer, for instance, the Big Drop Milk Stout or Ilkley Brewery Nowt Mary.
Another option would be to order or make your own low-alcohol or non-alcoholic green beer. You’ll only need a lighter-toned beer (pilsner or pale ale) and green food coloring to do this. The Days pale ale, Shorebreak pale ale, and Solo Pilsner are great lower-ABV options for a more mindful green beer.
Besides that, you may order a mocktail or virgin drink at the bar instead of having cocktails. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own DIY non-alcoholic Irish coffee at home. A simple recipe like this uses black coffee, brown sugar, whipping cream, and rum extract, which delivers the rum flavor without the alcohol content.
Tip #2: Choose your drinks wisely.
Besides opting for lower-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks during the celebration, you can also go for drinks lower in congeners.
Congeners are unwanted byproducts from alcohol fermentation. And research suggests that drinks high in congeners are more likely to cause intense hangovers compared to drinks with a lower congener content.
In general, dark liquors tend to be higher in congeners compared to their lighter counterparts. For instance, darker-toned beverages like dark whiskey, bourbon, and red wine may pose a higher risk of an intense hangover compared to lighter-colored drinks, such as white wine, gin, and vodka.
That said, alcohol content does matter more than congener content, so it’s still best to go for lower ABV tipples.
And despite how popular Irish coffee is during St. Patrick’s Day, it may be best to avoid it or opt for a non-alcoholic version of the drink.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans cautions against mixing alcohol with caffeine, as doing this can mask the effects of alcohol and increase the likelihood of high-risk drinking behaviors, such as binge drinking. This can increase your risk of alcohol side effects and a hangover.
Tip #3: Eat up before you drink up.
St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration to drink—and feast. So be sure to fill up your stomach before hitting the bar.
When you drink on an empty stomach, your body absorbs that alcohol faster. Because alcohol enters your bloodstream quickly, this might intensify the effects of alcohol on your body and could lead to poorer judgment and decision-making earlier on.
On the flip side, research suggests that having a meal before or while drinking alcohol may help to decrease alcohol absorption and slow its metabolism, which might help to dampen the effects of alcohol on your body.
Tip #4: Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and hydrate even more when you’re home.
While ordering non-alcoholic drinks at the pub is maybe not customary, this is one of the best ways to pace yourself when surrounded by laughter, music, and tons of booze.
By alternating between alcoholic drinks and water, you’re less likely to go overboard with your drinking—not to mention that this will keep you well-hydrated throughout the celebration!
The diuretic effects of alcohol can increase urination and excess loss of fluids, which may contribute to dehydration and a hangover. So, be sure to hydrate well during and after a drinking session.
Tip #5: Don’t give in to peer pressure.
When doing rounds with friends on St. Patty’s Day, it’s common to feel pressured to keep up with the fastest and best drinkers. At that point, pacing yourself with water and saying “no” to more drinks isn’t glamorous at all. Yes, your ego might take a hit, but your body will thank you the morning after!
Ultimately, the best way to avoid being pressured into drinking too much is to drink with friends who respect your “no’s” and have similar wellness goals.
Before the celebration, you can also set an alcohol limit and track your drinking throughout the day. That way, you’re less likely to be influenced into drinking more than you can handle.
Aside from preventing excessive alcohol consumption during a single drinking session, tracking your alcohol intake can have other added benefits in the long run. It gives you a clear picture of how much alcohol you usually drink and helps you set personalized, realistic goals to cut back sustainably.
By tracking your alcohol intake daily, you’ll be able to see your progress over time and keep yourself accountable.
You can enlist the help of an app like Sunnyside, which comes with drink-tracking tools to keep tabs on your drinking habits and urges. You’ll also gain access to personalized weekly action plans and daily accountability messages through the app.
Tip #6: Take after Gen Z and make a personalized BORG.
A BORG, or blackout rage gallon, is an alcoholic drink trending on TikTok as a “hangover-proof” alternative, especially among Gen Z drinkers. Despite its name, your intention for making and having a BORG should never be to “blackout.”
In fact many harm reduction experts are referring to the new trend as:
“really solid harm reduction, when paired with other tactics like catching a ride with a trusted designated driver…” (NBC)
The BORG is made by filling a one-gallon jug with water, alcohol (such as vodka), liquid flavor enhancers containing caffeine, and powdered electrolytes. Some of these concepts can be borrowed into making your own ‘mindful’ BORG for St. Patrick’s Day.
When concocting your BORG, it’s also important to be aware of your drinking limits. Don’t add more alcohol than you can handle into the mix.
Mixing caffeine and alcohol isn’t a great idea, as we’ve mentioned earlier, so it may be best to leave any caffeine-flavored enhancers out of the mix. Instead, you can add a little green coloring to give the drink more of a St. Patrick’s Day look. You won’t necessarily have to fill up a one-gallon jug or finish it during the festival, either.
Mixing an alcoholic drink with water and electrolytes may help with pacing your drinking, reducing your overall alcohol intake, and keeping you hydrated throughout the celebration. But the BORG still isn’t a pass to binge drink, and it’s best not to be chugging it down all through the night, but rather a means of slowing down your consumption.
What Can I Do to Manage a St. Patrick’s Day Hangover?
If you do end up with a hangover the morning after, try to get plenty of rest and stay well-hydrated throughout the day.
A nutritious breakfast can help to nudge your blood sugar levels back into the normal range, and painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen may help relieve a headache. A cold shower may also help increase alertness before you head off to work.
A popular “hangover remedy” nicknamed the hair of the dog involves drinking more alcohol to cure a hangover, but this may not be a safe solution. In any case, it’s best to avoid more alcohol if you’re already feeling hungover from drinking the night before.
The best way to manage a hangover is to prevent it in the very first place. You can do this by opting for lower-alcohol St. Patty’s Day drinks, setting a drinking limit beforehand, and tracking how much alcohol you consume throughout the day.
The Sunnyside app provides drink-tracking tools to help you do just this. You’ll also gain access to real-life coaches and personalized action plans to help you practice more mindful drinking habits during the celebration and beyond that!