I don’t know how it happened, but I managed to elude even the slightest of sickness all winter long. No sniffling, no sneezing, no nothing. And it was great! Until suddenly about a month ago I was struck down by a pretty obnoxious head cold. I laid low a for a few days, slugging down tea and vitamins at a pace that, were they booze, would’ve put Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas to shame. After a week or so of self imposed quarantine I reemerged into the world of the living, ready and raring to go. There’s nothing like a week of dragging your sorry ass between work and bed to really make you appreciate your health. But before long it struck again, and I retreated to my bed and Sudafed. A few days later I was feeling fiddle-like again and reemerged from my hovel of healing. I was, of course, struck again by this unstoppable killing machine of disease. It’s like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees had tiny germ babies together and machete’d them into my sinuses. Long story short I’ve been mayor of miserable-town for the better part of a month. Boo-urns.
The silver lining to all of this is a chance to experiment with a variety of self-concocted health elixirs. Specifically the Hot Toddy. Once a drink I found the mere idea of repulsive, I’m now a believer in the taste and power of the Toddy and its healing potential. Well, maybe not healing, but it will make you think you feel a bit better.
Simply put a Toddy is a beverage consisting of a hot liquid and alcohol. In this case we’ll be dealing with some simple iterations of the drink, based on water and whiskey, but tea, cider, wine, and brandy are all acceptable ingredients.
- Pour 1½ to 2 ounces of rye whiskey into 6 ounces of (very) hot water
Of the three variants I’ve been self-medicating with I found this to be the tastiest with no doctoring necessary. The drier, spicier taste of rye—whiskey made from at least 51% rye grain and aged in charred new oak barrels—is opened up by the hot water, making the rye sweeter and the spicier notes more apparent. It has an excellent bouquet and feels wonderful on a dry, scratchy throat.
- Pour 1½ to 2 ounces of bourbon into 6 ounces of (very) hot water. Lemon to taste
As bourbon is the sweetest of the three whiskeys I tried and the hot water makes the sweetness of the liquor more pronounced, the bourbon Toddy is a little on the sweet side. I discovered that the sweetness could be countered by squeezing a lemon wedge into the drink. In addition to providing some much needed acidity to a sweet drink, the lemon adds a world of dimension to this otherwise simple concoction. It is not necessary, but certainly recommended.
- Pour 1½ to 2 ounces of scotch into 6 ounces of (very) hot water. Lemon and Honey to taste.
Since the Toddy is generally attributed to the Scotts, it only makes sense to cook one up with Scotland’s most famous export (sorry Mr. Connery and kilts!). With scotch’s distinct smokiness, the scotch toddy has a very distinct flavor. Again, the addition of hot water makes the whiskey sweeter, but in this case it also opens up the peaty, smokiness of the liquor which can make the overall concoction a tad bitter. At first I tried to counter point this with a drizzle of honey—a teaspoon at most—but found the results to be too sweet on their own, so in went the lemon and sure enough, it was a winner. A silky, smooth night cap, the scotch Toddy will put a smile on your face as it puts you out for the count.
Yours in Sickness and Health,