When I was a kid, my dad got up to go to work at 3am, six days a week.
Later, before he retired a few years ago, he continued doing a half-day on a Saturday after working a full week.
In all that time, I don’t recall him taking a single day off work because of a cold. Actually, I can’t remember him taking any time off at all because of illness. Although, I guess he must have done at some point.
I do remember his routine when had a cold coming on though. As soon as he returned home he would go straight to bed with a hot water bottle “hot toddy” – a cocktail of hot water, whisky, lemon and honey – and rest until it was time to go to work again.
Naturally, I was keen to copy my dad. So when I was a bit older, mum gave me a hot toddy to take the edge off a heavy cold. Never again, I vowed. I thought it was disgusting – I wasn’t a fan of whisky in my younger days.
Skip ahead a few years and my taste buds are a little more refined. Hot toddies are back on my must-have list when I’ve got a cold along with the Lemsip, cough syrup, vapour rub and other remedies.
The health benefits of a hot toddy
Wait though. Will drinking a hot toddy soothe your symptoms? Or is it just another excuse, if you need one, to drink alcohol?
Honey and lemon
You probably already know that honey and lemon are good for helping you deal with a cold.
Meanwhile, lemon contains vitamin C and can kill some types of bacteria. This won’t have any effect on your cold (contrary to popular belief). But it is good for you in the longer term.
The hot water in a hot toddy also helps. It soothes your throat and and helps clear a blocked nose.
Unfortunately, there’s little evidence that the alcohol in a hot toddy has any benefits in fighting a cold. But it makes you feel good, right?
That said, it’s best not to drink too much though as it dehydrates you and you need to stay hydrated when you’ve got a cold.
My spiced hot toddy recipe
It’s really easy to put a hot toddy together. So it’s perfect when your cold means you’re not feeling up to doing much.
You’ll need a tumbler or mug and these ingredients:
- A tablespoon of honey.
- A shot of whisky – cheap whisky is fine as you’ll be adding lots of other flavours.
- A squeeze of lemon (plus an optional slice of lemon).
- Hot water.
- Half a cinnamon stick.
- A few cloves.
You don’t have to add the spices. But they add a nice tinge to it.
I’d like to tell you there’s a posh way to mix this drink. There isn’t though. Just chuck everything together and give it a stir until the honey melts.
Then sip away. It won’t cure your cold. But it will make you feel darn good.