One of my favorite wintertime drinks is the classic hot toddy. It's warm, delicious, and — in my opinion — it makes any cold evening more enjoyable. This delightful concoction consists of hot water, lemon, honey, cinnamon, cloves, and whiskey. There are many different variations, some using tea or apple cider and various spices, but the classic is my favorite.
An added benefit of the hot toddy is that the ingredients may help alleviate some common cold symptoms. I discovered this for myself accidentally when I was preparing for a large family and friends dinner and suddenly found myself with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough. It was too late to cancel the dinner and taking cold medicine always made me sleepy, so I followed the advice of my elderly neighbor and whipped up a hot toddy cocktail.
While I wasn't magically cured, it alleviated my sore throat and stuffy nose enough so I could enjoy dinner with my family and friends. Having a second one before bed put me right to sleep. Now, when the cold and flu season comes around, I make sure I have my hot toddy ingredients gathered and ready just in case.
Some may think, “How can there be benefits to drinking alcohol while sick?” After all, this is a whiskey-based cocktail. My answer is simple: Don't be so quick to judge. As with anything, too much is not good for you. In moderation, however, even whiskey has its unique benefits.
Let's take each ingredient and review their cold fighting benefits:
- Hot Water – Hydrating and soothing, hot water can help alleviate nasal congestion and warm you up when you're feeling chilly.
- Lemon - Full of Vitamin C and antioxidants, lemon can help boost your immune system.
- Honey - A good source of antioxidants with antibacterial properties that can help clear infections and reduce inflammation. Honey is also a great natural cough suppressant recommended for children over one year old by The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Cinnamon – Containing large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, cinnamon also has antibacterial properties that may help reduce infections.
- Cloves - High in antioxidants such as eugenol, cloves can help reduce oxidative stress and also have antimicrobial properties that can help kill bacteria.
- Whiskey – Because it dilates blood vessels and capillaries and helps with circulation, whiskey can make it easier for mucus membranes to fight infection; it serves as an excellent decongestant when not overindulged. It's an antiseptic and numbing agent on tonsils which will help soothe a sore throat. Alcohol is also excellent at killing germs.
Now that you know the benefits of this delicious cocktail, I hope you will try it even if you aren't sick. Please enjoy my personal hot toddy recipe. Happy sipping!
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 wedge of lemon (or ½ tbsp lemon juice)
- 1 tbsp honey (local if possible)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 ½ oz whiskey
Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon to boiling water and steep for 3-5 minutes. The cloves can be left in or removed before the next step. Be careful when drinking if you leave them in as they are small and can be swallowed. Add honey and stir until combined. Add whiskey and enjoy!