Lovin’ Spoonful

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.http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/980807/5-hot-toddy-recipes

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.

All the necessary ingredients - including fresh ginger for the non-whisky version. Source: Gourmet Traveller

All the necessary ingredients – including fresh ginger for the non-whisky version.
Source: Gourmet Traveller

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.