The combination of cold, wet weather and flu season can create a host of problems. When we don’t feel well, most of have traditions that we fall back on to feel better: flannel pajamas, a warm blanket, a hot water bottle and chicken soup. But some people reach for a hot toddy: it’s warm, boozy and tastes good.
Old timers credit the hot toddy with soothing a sore throat and cough, relieving aches and pains, and helping you fall asleep. It was once a traditional remedy for those who had been exposed to extreme weather or suffered an upset. The toddy was pushed into their hands as they were sent to bed. While toddies won’t keep sickness at bay as once thought, they will warm you and (at least initially) help you sleep.
Research is mixed on its effectiveness, but everyone agrees that anything that helps you sleep will aid in fighting off a cold. Hot beverages dilate nasal passages easing congestion, lemons are a good source of vitamin C, and alcohol in limited amounts help you sleep. So, if the hot toddy is your fall back, go for it.
Ask for a hot toddy today, and you’re likely to get a warm drink with whiskey, lemon, and spices. But if you ordered one in the earliest days of American history, a hot toddy would
have been made with rum.
It is said that the hot toddy originated in Colonial India. The Hindi word “taddy” means “beverage made from fermented palm sap.” Brits had been drinking it for years before they officially wrote down the recipe in 1786. Other sources claim that the hot toddy originated in Scotland in 1781. It was known as “hot whisky” and was drunk after being exposed to cold, wet weather. No matter its source, a hot toddy consists of alcohol, hot water, sweetener and spices. Sometimes tea is included in the recipe.
If you want to drink the original hot toddy, reach for the rum, but if you’re not a fan of rum, try whisky or bourbon. The best part is, you can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. Here’s one of many recipes that I found:
2 ounces Rum 1 Tea Bag
2 teaspoons Honey Juice of ½ Lemon
8 ounces boiling Water
Steep the tea bag in the water for 2-3 minutes, then remove the tea bag. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Garnish with lemon peel, a cinnamon stick, cloves, or other spices.
Here is a recipe for a hot toddy that will warm you to your toes, and the ashwaganda root, which is an adaptogen that can help your body manage stress, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system:
1 Earl Gray or Irish Breakfast tea bag
1 slice Lemon
1 slice Ginger Root
½ stick Cinnamon
½ slice Ashwaganda Root
2 ounces whisky, bourbon or cognac
In a large mug, place first the four ingredients. Add almost boiling water and steep until the tea is to the desired strength. Remove the tea bag and add two ounces of liquor. Serves one
No matter which recipe you choose, indulge in just one as too much alcohol will disrupt your sleep, and keep in mind that alcohol should not be mixed with most over-the-counter medications.
I hope that you escape the cold and flu season and enjoy hot toddies just to warm you up during the cold winter months!