Feature – Talking Toddy

Like many others at this time of year I’m struggling with a cold. Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Aspirin may be the most reached for medicines of choice but I often (unsurprisingly) take a whisky based approach.

The traditional Hot Toddy is my favoured remedy to help ease flu like symptoms before heading to bed. What you may not know however is that the toddy actually derives from an Indian drink which was a blend of hot water, sugar, spices and an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting the sap of palm trees. 

Interestingly enough Whisky (specifically the alcohol) works rather well as a decongestant, the alcohol dilating the blood vessels and helping to unblock your nose and sinuses giving a bit of relief from cold symptoms.  The other traditional ingredient, honey, also helps to ease sore throats and the natural sugars help to provide a little pick me up. This, combined with the hot steam from the drink and the sedative effects of the dram helps to warm and comfort us as well as letting us get a better sleep. Science has proven that the way to beat a cold is to get plenty of rest, anything that helps us with this is surely a good thing.

But how do you make the perfect hot toddy? A brief browse around the internet will bring up countless recipes, some of which appear to create a kind of whisky based mulled wine style drink.  Which is the best? I can’t argue that one method is better than the others but I can share with you my recipe.

You will need:

1 – A big squeeze of runny honey.

2- A large pinch of dried chilli flakes.

3 – A big glug of your preferred whisky. (I usually lean towards something super peaty but you can really use any style)

The best way to prepare this is to pour the honey into the mug and mix in the chilli flakes. If you have enough time to leave the chilli to soak into the honey for a while then that helps to give it an extra kick.

Pour in your preferred dram (to your taste) and top up with hot water. I have seen people adding other spices (cloves, nutmeg etc) and perhaps even lemon juice but I find the chilli flakes and honey are enough.

What is your favourite Hot Toddy recipe? Feel free to leave it in a comment below.


Please be aware that this article may contain commission links. This has no bearing on my review of any product.

You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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5 comments

  1. AmateurDrammer · ·

    You can’t beat the wisdom of the Highlands. Sounds like a legitimate theory!

  2. Andrew Baxter · ·

    A wise Highlander once told me that the true cure for a cold is to go to bed with a bottle of whisky, continue drinking it until you can see two bottles of whisky. At that stage, you will be over the worse.

  3. AmateurDrammer · ·

    You need to try the chilli flakes, but be warned it’s easy to put in too many!

  4. Chilli flakes? Am going to have to try that! My default hot toddy is honey, cinnamon, lemon juice, hot water, and (totally with you on this) a peaty whisky.

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