The Hot Toddy


Cold and flu season is upon us and soon we will be heading out to the pharmacy for relief. And while I am not going to recommend a couple of shots before heading out to work to make it through the day, bourbon certainly can have a place in your cold relief regimen.
The very name, “Hot Toddy” conjures a vision of red noses, comfy quilts and steaming cups. It’s an old time remedy that maybe you adopted from your parents or grandparents, but does it actually have any medicinal value? Here’s the latest from modern medicine.

It’s Grandma versus some guy in a white lab coat, dextromethorphan ‏against Knob Creek! Doxylamine supinate or honey and lemon? Pseudoephedrine or… Pseudo what? Maybe the Toddy just gives you a more cheerful outlook. Is that so bad? By the ingredients:


The Whiskey
the whiskey in a hot toddy can help you relax and help you fall asleep faster but some say that this can lead to poorer quality sleep. Researchers found that people who had an orange juice and vodka nightcap before dozing off had lower quality sleep compared to a control group that had just orange juice for bedtime.

The alcohol, however, dilates blood vessels a little, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection. There is a reason that off-the-shelf cough medicine contains some 10% to 12% alcohol. Why shouldn’t it taste good?

Some studies have even shown that the occasional consumption of alcohol may even decrease susceptibility to viruses.

Hot Water

Boiling water with a bit of clove and cinnamon can help decrease congestion. Researchers noted that inhaling the hot steam was especially effective.

Lemon Juice
Lemon juice reduces mucus which makes it easier to unclog your respiratory system. The acidity of lemons can also help the body fight infection. Lemon juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, but there is no scientific evidence that vitamin C can actually lessen the severity of, or prevent colds.


Researchers found that 2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime reduced coughing frequency in children and also supplies oxygen, helping your body to fight off disease-causing inflammation. Read here for more information on the health benefits of locally sourced honey.




In my childhood, my family swore by it. As a very young child I remember having a shot of Hot Toddy when I was feeling under the weather when I was headed to bed. Was it because of its effectiveness or because it was what the budget would bear? We will never know now, but I can tell you I have a warm memory of holding that steamy cup and taking my medicine like a “big boy”. And so do I STILL!

So here’s your recipe for relief this winter cold season:

Hot Toddy

8 ounces of hot water (clove and cinnamon as desired)
One bag of herbal tea
1 ounce of bourbon
2 tablespoons of honey
One lemon wedge

Apple wedge

Don’t imagine though, that you can just combine whiskey AND pharmaceuticals for even greater effect. Mixing medicines and alcohol is dangerous business – DONT DO IT.