Cocktails that won't kill your morning run

Tips from Kim Hrejsa, Beverage Director at The Vig Chicago

Recently, we were able to sit down with Kim Hrejsa, Beverage Director at The Vig Chicago, to get the best cocktail tips and recipes that won’t destroy your morning run. Thanks Kim, you’re our saving grace this summer!

1. Avoid liquors with high congeners. Congeners are particulates picked up during the aging process – chemicals, including acetone (which our bodies do not typically enjoy!), colors and flavor enhancers.  Common sense tells us to avoid cheaper whiskies/dark rums, but even quality congener-filled alcohol, like red wine and bourbon can likely lead to headaches, lethargy, etc.

Low congener liquors include: Vodka, Gin, White wine, Clear rums, High quality white whiskey (ie: Moonshine made at a professional distillery, NOT your buddy's garage), and shockingly—Everclear! 

Important to note:

  • If you must enjoy high congener cocktails or wine, do not mix them! Red wine plus an old fashioned will not help your chances to make that morning run. 
  • Everclear. The main reason this get a bad wrap is because it's usually mixed with cheap, high sugar product (aka: Jungle Juice). Avoid the unhealthy mixers = avoiding the nasty side effects. 
  • Tequila! There is a common misconception that tequila will help you avoid headaches and hangovers since it's 'clear' (or lighter in color than other dark liquors). It actually is the exception to the clear liquor rule, and has high levels of congeners. Once you start moving into the anejos and reposados (a quick jump from blanco) the congener concentration gets higher. 


2. Drink high quality liquors. Higher quality liquors tend to be filtered more times. The more times filtered, the more opportunities for congeners to be filtered out.

This is why the highest quality vodkas have little to no taste! (and also why SOME younger/less experienced drinkers can think they have a weak drink… they are used to drinking cheaper vodka, that leaves an aftertaste!)


3. WATER! Drink water throughout the night (but ask nicely! Don’t be the ‘WATER!!! WAAAATER!’ guy or gal to a busy bartender. Wait your turn just as if you were ordering another cocktail).  

It’s also smart to choose shaken drinks instead of stirred, as this allows more water into the drink.


4. Avoid sugar. Sugar can cause tummy aches and issues, as well as mask the alcohol flavor so well that drinks go down faster, and you don’t realize just how much you have actually consumed. Avoid sugary mixes. Rather, muddle fruit in the bottom of a gin or vodka water in place of syrup-y mixers or juices, use fresh squeezed lime/lemon juices.


5. Antioxidants are your friend. Especially when making drinks at home (when you have more free range to use whatever you want) choose juices/ingredients high in antioxidents. Antioxidents protect your cells against the damaging effects of free radicals (toxins).

Items high in things like: Beta-Carotene, Selenium, Vitamins A, C, E are:

  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, cherries, kale, spinach, beets
  • Use yummy herbs and roots that aid in digestion, such as ginger root, peppermint and dandelion. Just muddle them in (or make a quick syrup with the herb and some hot water & agave!)
  • Try using shrubs - you can find these at Binny's and other liquor stores. They are concentrated syrups made of sugar, fruit or herbs, and vinegar. 


6. If all else fails and it’s too late… Keep drinking that water the next day! Keep celtic sea salt handy, and throw a pinch into 8oz of water, up to a maximum of 1 teaspoon a day.

Drink beet juice – it is full of detoxifying qualities! Celery juice is great as well. Ginger will also help settle an upset stomach.

And, if you find yourself at The Vig, here are the drinks to choose that won’t ruin your morning run:

The Doris. Cucumber infused vodka, St. Germain elderflower liquor, mint syrup, fresh cucumber juice, dry champagne. (*there’s minimal sugar in mixers and the dry champagne has lower sugar content. Cucumber juice is great for hydrating!)

Beet it Geek. Gin, beet juice, Shrub & Co’s green apple shrub, Bitterman’s Habanero shrub, ginger, lemon. (*Beet juice is full of vitamins and nutrients, and the shrub has half the sugar of most other mixers!)

All The Way Mae. Tito’s Vodka, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, fresh watermelon juice, lime, Tajin rim. (*Watermelon is super hydrating! Minimal congeners and sugar in this one.)


Kim also gave us two of her favorite recipes for home:

Water Cooler

1.25 oz gin (or vodka/rum)

0.5 oz honey shrub

0.5 oz lime juice

0.25 oz agave nectar

3 oz water

4-5 fresh berries (blackberries & raspberries are perfect!)

Muddle berries and agave in martini shaker. Add all other ingredients with a good scoop of ice. Shake well and strain over fresh ice in a tall collins glass. Garnish with whatever fresh fruit (or edible flowers!) you have handy!


Classic White Wine Spritzer

3 oz white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)

1 oz club soda

2 Dash orange bitters

Orange twist

Add all over ice in wineglass.