Brandy Hot Toddy: Better Than A Flu Vaccine
Granted, the title is a bit of an overstatement, but when we consider the intended purposes of both Hot Toddies and vaccines, it’s true to an extent. One treats the symptoms, while the other seeks to prevent you from falling ill in the first place. Now, for those of you not in the know, a Hot Toddy is a mix of a spirit, usually whiskey, brandy or rum (in that order of frequency), hot water and honey (think grog but without the pirates). Some recipes also call for cinnamon or lemon, even garlic. Does hot toddy work? Well, it’s not a vaccine, but it sure as heck beats homeopathy when it comes to curing a cold.
When Do You Need a Hot Toddy?
Hot Toddies are a great answer if you’re coming down with the flu or a cold, which, chances are, is why you’ve googled Hot Toddies in the first place.
For starters, here’s a handy little guide to differentiate the flu from a cold.
The flu comes on quickly and has you aching all over, giving you chills and sweats, and is accompanied by fever. Conversely, a cold is not as quick to set in (though it goes away quicker), will rarely result in a fever, at least in adults, and won’t hurt as much. On a similar note, a cold lasts shorter and the symptoms are typically not as severe, so you can function more or less as usual. Still, you should keep in mind that you’re contagious for the first three days, so staying put and keeping yourself well-rested is not beneficial for you, but for others as well.
Both the flu and a cold, however, will have you sneezing, coughing (dry or gunky, respectively) and wiping your nose until it’s all red and sore. Both will also close down your throat, making eating anything more solid than soup an ordeal.
All of that said, though, despite feeling miserable and achy all-over, you don’t have to alarm your GP on account of either the flu or a cold. More often than not, your body will heal itself, and all you need to do is help it by resting a lot and keeping yourself warm and comfy.
How A Hot Toddy Works
Turning to over-the-counter cold medicines such as Tylenol, NyQuil or ibuprofen is the usual way people deal with the symptoms, but instead of subjecting your body to synthetic drugs, you might want to try a natural remedy first. Cue in Hot Toddies!
A Hot Toddy will basically do the same thing ibuprofen would – ease the symptoms and relax you just enough to wander off to sleep more easily. However, while ibuprofen and Tylenol might cause some tummy troubles, a Hot Toddy, if taken moderately, will do none of these.
Now, can drinking a hot toddy actually cure your cold? The short answer is no, not by a long shot. However, its ingredients will go a long way to alleviating the symptoms.
For example, the alcohol will surely dehydrate your body, but you can offset that by drinking a lot of water (which you’d be doing anyway if you come down with a cold). On the flipside, it (the alcohol) will help your body fight off the infection and prevent microbial growth. It will also dilate your blood vessels, which helps to deal with the increased blood flow (this is your body’s natural response to infections, serving to deliver white blood cells to the area that is affected). Of course, there’s also the small matter of getting sleepy when drinking alcohol, which is another big plus in your situation (remember, your body needs rest and lots of it).
Honey is another beneficial ingredient found in Hot Toddies. It has long been known for its soothing qualities and the ability to boost your immune system. That said, there are no conclusive studies that show its effects on treating the cold, but there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence in favor of it – pretty much the entire history of honey being used by humans.
Hot water is another big item on the list. It’s clear how it can help your body deal with the cold – blankets keep you warm on the outside, and Toddies keep you warm on the inside. Some folks like to use tea instead of water, even adding a slice of lemon or a stick of cinnamon. This is even better because it increases the amount of vitamins that get into your body. Black tea goes rather well with dark spirits such as whiskey, bourbon or brandy. Plus, the mix of hot tea, honey and lemon is positively wondrous for your dry and scratchy throat.
Of course, a word of caution is in order. Just like in any other situation when there’s drinking, you should avoid excess. A half-ounce glass of a Brandy Hot Toddy will do wonders for your aches and pains, but if you go overboard, you’ll be back at square one or worse.
Best Brandy Hot Toddy Recipe for the Season
Hot Toddy recipes vary wildly, but they all stick to the same basic principle – hot water, dark spirit and honey (though brown sugar is also fine), with a splash of lemon for added zest. Here’s a traditional Brandy Hot Toddy recipe from America’s Dairyland.
Brandy Hot Toddy Ingredients:
1 cinnamon, whole stick
1 clove, crushed
4oz hot water
4oz hot water (this is not a mistake)
Brandy Hot Toddy Preparation:
Your eyes didn’t fool you, you’ll need two measures of water of 4oz each. Bring the water to a boil, then pour it into a mug to temper it (this will keep the Toddy from cooling too fast). While the mug is tempering, you’ll want to cut off a slice of lemon (orange is a good stand-in) and pierce it with bits of clove.
Then, pour out the water from the mug and pour in the brandy. Add honey, lemon juice and lemon slice with cloves and cinnamon stick, then cover everything with four ounces of hot water (or whatever the mug will hold). Stir as vigorously as your achy self can, sip and enjoy the rest of the evening.