Food & Drink

Hiccup Cures From Bartenders (That Actually Work)

Published On 10/07/2016 Published On 10/07/2016
hiccup cures
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Hiccups at the bar are like little bodily contractions that show the world you're at least 4x as sloppily intoxicated as you really are -- they are embarrassing, uncomfortable, and give off that not-so-attractive "wino" vibe. Unfortunately, I get Sudden Onset Hiccups (SOHs) whenever I, as the kids would say, get turnt. And the old stalwarts like drinking water through a towel or scaring the shit out of yourself by watching a 2016 presidential debate don't really work. 

So I asked a slew of bartenders for their diaphragm-settling tips and tricks, because basically I ask bartenders to help solve all my problems. Though these methods and the ways I approached them were purposely non-scientific, a few of them actually worked (for me, at least).

See! I told my mom I would learn something hanging around all these bars, and now I have. 

Vava Ruso/Youtube

1. Soda water, bitters, and citrus

"I always give people with hiccups at the bar a large soda water with two to four hefty dashes of Angostura bitters and a lemon wedge, squeezed. I tell them to drink it down quickly and steadily until it's gone. It should cure their hiccups almost immediately." -- Dillon Mafit, ex-bartender and current Supercall senior editor

Did it work?

It worked immediately. Since I was drinking in the office, I went over and gave Dillon a hug. Ten out of 10, would recommend again.

2. Bitters, soda, no citrus

"The closest thing that comes to mind is the old bitters and soda to start the shift, and then as needed. It's great for settling the tummy generally, especially if the night before was chaotic, and with night hours stomachs suffer a bit." -- Ben Wiley, owner of Cardiff Giant, Mission Dolores, and The Owl Farm, Brooklyn, NYC

Did it work?

My stomach was a little more settled, sure, but the hiccups kept flying out like an off-key Miles Davis solo. Maybe the citrus makes a difference?

3. Bitters and citrus, by themselves

"The only one I've ever seen work is the old standby, eating an entire lime wedge soaked in Angostura bitters. Works every time." -- Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Portland bartender and writer

Did it work?

This one -- which is Mafit's cure, sans the soda water -- actually worked. I manned up and took a shot (well... half of a shot) of Ango. Maybe it grossed me out so hard, I forgot to hiccup. Maybe it was a stone-cold placebo effect. Either way, that seems to be the key, so far. 

4. Deep (deeeeeeep) breathing and swallowing

"I actually learned this when I was a kid from my mom and have used it at the bar ever since we opened. It's weird, but you have to reset your diaphragm muscles by taking in a HUGE deep breath and swallowing three times. If you hiccup or breathe at all before you can swallow the third time, you have to start all over again. It works 50% of the time on the first attempt, but 100% on the second. IT WORKS FOR EVERYONE. I had a customer/friend who I taught this to get so excited that he bought a URL on the spot to post it on." -- Zach Mack, Thrillist contributor and owner of ABC Beer Co., East Village, NYC

Did it work?

It took two times -- as promised -- but my spastic hiccups were dead as disco, or Zed. This proved to me that bar hiccups could be cured without bringing bitters in. 

5. Seltzer, with a question

"My surefire way is to ask them, 'Do you remember, when was the last time you had hiccups?' That one works pretty well. Otherwise they get the largest glass of seltzer that they are to take tiny sips of every second for a 20-count." -- Hayley Karl, Mugs Alehouse, Brooklyn, NYC

Did it work?

Well, I couldn't ask myself when the last time I had the hiccups was, and I couldn't really tell someone else to do it, because that kind of defeats the purpose. So, I asked some random girl who I saw hiccuping. She said, "Please leave me alone," but it seemed like her hiccups went away, so that's good.

The seltzer alone did not work, sadly. 

6. The old quarter trick... or, drinking a daiquiri upside down  

"When someone at the bar has the hiccups, my best move (short of making them drink a daiquiri upside down) is to hand them a quarter, and tell them to give it back to me the next time they hiccup. No idea why it works; but it's near foolproof. The only problem is that I can't do it to myself." -- Dan Casto, bar manager/bartender at Double Dragon, Portland, OR

Did it work?

I tried the quarter thing on someone else who was hiccuping, and it did not work (I think the general conceit behind it is distracting the hiccuper in question).

But, as a sign of good faith, I did drink a daiquiri upside down... and all I got was brain freeze and a very stained shirt.

Stick with the bitters, they actually work.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He actually blames Gwyneth Paltrow for most of the world's problems. Follow him @wilfulton.

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