Before there was Theraflu

January 25, 2011 · 12 comments

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It’s true, they used to use alcohol for pretty much everything. Tim was reading to me this weekend, an account of the beginnings of coffee and tea shops in Europe. That before people had coffee and tea, they just drank alcohol all the time, since the conditions of the water often rendered it undrinkable. The premise of the article was that coffee shops not only provided a stimulant rather than depressive drink, but also a place for people to gather and discuss important ideas — hence, the invention of coffee and tea as social drinks just preceded the Enlightenment (I knew I drank coffee for a reason! The next Enlightenment could happen at our neighborhood Nameless Coffee Shop).

But now? We don’t really do all-day alcohol without an impending intervention. Because now, we have pharmaceutical companies other options. Our water must be filtered and still has toxic levels of flouride is safer. The only real reason to crack open a bottle of spirits is for enjoyment, right?

Not so fast. Enter the Hot Toddy.

I discovered this drink many years ago, in Athens, Georgia. I’d had a girls’ night planned for a while — meeting up with friends Hillary and Dana at The Manhattan, the hipster-divey place we went for drinks before there was Trappeze. The night was planned, I had been duly excited, but somewhere had picked up a nasty chest cold. My cough was rattly, my head felt like my brain had been loosed from its moorings and was rolling around free in its un-padded casing. But it was GIRL’S NIGHT. It was NOT TO BE CANCELED. I would go, and I would have fun. With the girls.

So I went; and on the chalkboard at the bar, was a drink special: a hot toddy, for $3.

And it was wonderful. It was warm, soothing, and fully enabled me to fulfill that planned desire for girl chatter. I asked the bartender how she made it, and it has now become my go-to concoction when my immune chips are down. Which just happens to be this week.

I usually drink this in the evening, after dinner (I still don’t want to drink bourbon at 10am, no matter how congested I feel). There are no doubt countless variations of this whiskey-laden medicinal cocktail, but this one is so easy, and as one of my Book Club friends said when we made them last weekend, you can’t really put both honey and lemon in something and it not be good.

Now, if I could just figure out how to legally get it into my kids…


Hot Toddy
makes one serving

  • one shot-glass of bourbon whiskey
  • freshly-boiled water
  • honey, to taste
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste

Put on a kettle of water to boil. Pour a shot of bourbon into a mug, and add a couple teaspoons of honey. Squeeze in about a teaspoon of lemon juice. When water boils, remove from heat and pour over bourbon. Stir, taste, and add more honey/lemon juice as needed. Sip slowly, preferably under a thick quilt with a book in-hand.

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This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

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