Prairie Oyster – Classic Early 20th Century Hangover Cure

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Is The Prairie Oyster Good and What Does It Taste Like

The prairie oyster doesn’t taste bad in fact its actually pretty good. You can barely taste the egg yolk. Mostly you just taste the funky Worcestershire sauce and spices, which I think taste pretty good and then the egg yolk just kinda pops and then goes down. I know that description is not very persuasive to trying it but it’s surprisingly good. If you like throwing back raw oysters then you most likely will like this too as its not too far off. The first prairie oyster you eat is for sure the hardest. You stare at it and the drink stares back. Eventually you realizing you have no choice but to drink it.

Truth be told I actually love this drink and my family is disgusted by me eating them. Egg yolk is pretty mild but the Worcestershire sauce and vinegar are what really hit you. Optional toppings are either ketchup, hot sauce, or horseradish. I actually like the horseradish as it actually sends a good quick burn up the sinuses. So it’s a nice funk and burn.

History Of The Prairie Oyster

The prairie oyster starts to pop up in books around the end of the 19th century beginning of the 20th century. Although the prairie oyster appears to be a take on an actual oyster dish. Similar to ordering a shrimp cocktail at the bar today the oyster cocktail was a nice go to during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many books had oyster cocktails among their recipes and the small bar bite typically was 5 or 6 shucked oysters in a glass, mixed with vinegar, lemon juice, hot sauce or ketchup, and salt and pepper. Serve with a spoon and let the patron dig in. I also found in the 1891 book Boothby’s American bar a cocktail called the pick me up. The cocktail is Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, black coffee and salt. The earliest example of the prairie oyster I could find is in the 1895 book “Drinks of All Kinds For All Seasons” by John Hogg of London. The origin story he presents is that a few Texans were out camping when one fell ill and demanded oysters to heal him. They didn’t have oysters but they had eggs. So they fixed up a drink of it similar to an oyster cocktail, handed it to their friend, and he suddenly got better. That story is most like not true (all the ones that fit together perfectly usually are not.) but it does offer a connection that the prairie oyster is based off a normal oyster cocktail. While there maybe no definitive origin to this cocktail it was probably invented around the 1890s.

Does The Prairie Oyster Actually Cure Hangovers

No, of course not, but what it does do is it forces you to focus and get it together. The drink isn’t actually that bad but most people will have to psych themselves out before throwing it back. Its that few seconds of you spend staring down at that funk covered egg yolk, building up the resolve to just do it, that perks you up. It’s jumping into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed. Just try it. I bet you have all the ingredients for it right now.

Drinking Raw Eggs

As a word of warning use pasteurized eggs if you can. Pasteurized eggs are still raw like a normal egg but with all the germs killed off. The FDA guesstimates that 1 in every 40,000 eggs has salmonella. Which is super rare. For reference there is a 1 in 8000 chance of dying in a plane crash, 1 in 5000 die from choking, and around 1% of sushi test positive for salmonella. I got these numbers from the FDA and Wall Street journal. Pasteurized eggs are kinda hard to find so you can pasteurizing them yourself or just roll the dice. If you have one of those fancy sous vide devices it’s really easy to just pasteurize them yourself. As someone who has had Salmonella poisoning before, I can say it is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. It feels like your intestines are possessed by the devil and being fed into a paper shredder. About a day or 2 in you start to think that you will actually die and you hope for death to come quick just to end it. Again 1 in every 40,000. So incredibly rare, and if you get Salmonella you’re much more likely to get it the same way I did, by eating food in somewhere with no running water, where people don’t wash their hands. I’ve eaten countless raw eggs and have never gotten sick from raw eggs once.

Why You Should Try The Weird Stuff

Nature loves courage, and always remember that no matter how weird or gross something is to you, (be it food, drinks, clothing, music, entertainment, or anything) its somebody’s favorite thing in the world. You just have to find out why. During your life you will be presented with things (and I’m taking about objects and experiences) that you either find gross or strange (like the Prairie Oyster) and your first reaction is typically to make a face and reject it, but don’t. Whatever it is you’re making a repulsed face at is somebody’s favorite thing in the world and it is that happiness you should try and channel when experiencing anything new. Doesn’t mean you have to end up liking it but you should always approach new experiences looking to find the joys in them. So take the risk and try something strange and remember this is someone favorite thing in the world. You just have to find why, because there is no telling what path that curious experience may lead you to. I learned this from Anthony Bourdain. I remember watching No Reservations in college and hearing him say before he eats anything new that he “remembers this is someones favorite dish in the whole world and my job is to find out why.”


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Prairie Oyster – Classic Early 20th Century Hangover Cure

5 from 1 vote
Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make a prairie oyster.


  • 1 Egg Yolk

  • 1 tsp Malt Vinegar

  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 tsp Horseradish

  • 1 Dash Salt

  • 1 Dash Black Pepper


  • Crack and separate an egg yolk into a lowball glass.
  • Add malt vinegar, worcestershire sauce, horseradish.
  • Add a dash of salt and black pepper.
  • Consume the prairie oyster in a single gulp.

Recipe Video

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