Drink of the Week: The Prairie Oyster


I had to get to the prairie oyster eventually because of it’s overall cocktail notoriety. It’s also a frequent trope in 20th-century movie hangover scenes – Cabaret gets mentioned the most. Also, how many opportunities am I going to get to write about the hoariest hangover remedy of all on a post that goes live on January 1, aka International Hangover Day? None of this means it’s something you’d want to drink because it tastes good or even just to get a buzz-on. The best version of this drink doesn’t even have any alcohol.

Not to be confused with the bull gonad-based appetizer sometimes called Rocky Mountain oysters – the prairie oyster is generally prescribed to fight the morning after heebie-jeebies by bartenders, wise aunts, best friends, and the occasional Berlin-based vixen. The key ingredient is raw egg yolk or whole egg, which is where most people jump off the train.

I’m possibly the first person to down three prairie oysters in one night while initially being stone-cold sober. Nothing really bad happened, but there was no booze buzz and a general feeling of bleh. The concoction is intended to be downed in one-gulp which is probably the only way most people can finish it.

The Prairie Oyster (alcoholic; adapted mostly from Difford’s Guide)

1 raw egg yolk
1 ounce brandy/cognac (vodka is also often used)
½ ounce vinegar
¼ ounce Worcestershire sauce
¼ ounce tomato juice or ketchup
1-3 dashes of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
Salt to “taste”
Pepper to “taste”

Combine all of the ingredients, except the yolk, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Place your unbroken egg yolk in a cocktail or old-fashion glass. Shake the non-egg ingredients vigorously and strain them over the yolk.

Prairie Oyster (nonalcoholic, as suggested by David Wondrich and others)

1 whole egg
½ to 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-3 dashes hot sauce
Salt to taste or whatever
Pepper to taste or whatever

Put all of the ingredients in an old-fashioned glass and bottoms up!

Note: Because of the potential threat of salmonella, I strongly advise that people with serious health issues should not consume raw eggs. However, I would also not recommend getting plastered for people with serious health issues. Nevertheless, I’m guessing it’s better to be a health-compromised drunk without salmonella than with it.


Okay, so this is one occasion when I’m for sure not going to play the “which brand is it best with?” game. I used my usual Reynal French brandy and a more expensive cognac I shouldn’t have bothered with. I’m weirdly fixated on savory cocktails and even I found the boozy prairie oyster pretty unpleasurable. I liked it best when I just sipped the liquid portion and tossed the yolk – not because I have an aversion to raw eggs, quite the contrary. However, after three raw eggs in a single night, #4 is probably just a bad idea.

The next morning I wasn’t hungover but I had the nonalcoholic recipe anyway. It’s…refreshing? Anyhow, if you’re okay with the ingredients, you won’t mind it much.

Does the prairie oyster work? How would I know? I’ve never even had a proper hangover, thanks to a body that just won’t let me go that far in my middle years and an apparent iron constitution in my younger days. I do know, on the other hand, that what you need after a night of booze excess is hydration and a little nutrition. A beverage rich in sodium might be good because it encourages further hydration and it’s got some potassium, too. What you don’t need is any more alcohol. I recommend a bloody Mary, hold the vodka.

Happy New Year!


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