We had a thick storm that made itself known at our elevation with pounding rain and a swirling stewpot of black clouds. When the grey haze lifted, the Jura mountains were dusted in season’s first snow and the temperature had plunged.
I thought I’d escaped the bug that was bothering me all last week, but yesterday it came back with a vengeance and an epic sneezing fit. So I hobbled through the day and then decided to use a little home remedy to make sure I got some sleep. It’s cold enough now for hot evening drinks.
The ever-reliable Hot Toddy, friend of stuffy heads and cranky moods. According to whisky expert Charlie MacLean, the hot toddy was invented in the 18th century, a workaround solution to sell raw Scotch. Sugared fruits, honey or spices were added to raw whisky to disguise the taste, with hot water to dissolve them.
Many cultures have their own forms of heated alchoholic remedies. Most seem to involve simply mixing a favorite spirit with hot water and something sugary. One Japanese version is the tamagozake – heated sake with a raw egg mixed in until just cooked, and honey or sugar. I haven’t tried it, but as long as it doesn’t just turn into sake-flavored scrambled eggs, why not?
It’s always been clear to me that the main benefit of drinking my kind of hot toddy – hot water, whisky, honey and lemon juice – was the hot water and lemon juice. Probably most of the alcohol in the whisky evaporates in the boiling water, anyway. But enough remains that I think it helps me get just a bit more of a restful sleep than I might otherwise achieve.
So, with the soothing effects of my first hot toddy of the season, I managed an excellent night’s rest, and woke this morning to find that my cold was all but gone. Miraculous effects of the hot toddy? Probably whatever I had has simply run its course. The average cold lasts 7-10 days, whatever bug I caught first made itself known over a week ago, so that’s a distinct possibility.
But I definitely feel better post-toddy than I did pre-toddy.
I don’t make my hot toddies very strong – just a one short shot of whisky with a lot of water goes a long way when I’m sick. I made the mistake a couple of years ago of adding a shot of very smoky, peaty whisky, which is one I won’t repeat.
My very basic Hot Toddy consists of a shot of smooth whisky (last night I used Singleton), a mug of hot water, mixed with a sweet heaping spoonful of mild honey and juice from half a lemon. Easy. I found a few interesting, fancier versions here, but I’ll be sticking with my tried-and-true version.
After all, it worked last night, right?
And here’s a musical Lovin’ Spoonful to push back those autumn chills.