My husband and I are kind of like your weird grandparents who always are trying to get you to eat things like beets and sugar-free candies and prescribing homemade tonics and tinctures for what’s ailing you. (Except for the sugar-free candies part. That’s just what my Polish great-grandma always tried to force-feed me.)

When I branded my arm with a hot baking sheet the week before our wedding, Joel read online to smear honey over the burn and wrap it in plastic wrap. (It left a barely-visible scar on my arm and a sticky spot on our seating chart.) When, after catching every cold and flu I came in contact with this winter, my tonsils became infected, he mixed me salty lime water and hot, spicy milk. (My throat did indeed feel better after three nights boiling milk with turmeric, but that more likely had to do with the antibiotics the doctor prescribed at the same time.) I’m also pretty sure ginger ale cures most everything.

But my favorite home remedy has to be the hot toddy.

And, it turns out, the December/January issue of Taste of Home backs up our health claims for the drink. It prescribed the juice of a lemon, honey and two teaspoons of elderberry syrup stirred into a mugful of boiling water to ward of the cold and flu. According to the magazine…

The toddy’s hot steam and liquid help clear your head, the lemon clears mucus and gives you some vitamin C and the antiviral, antibacterial honey also soothes your throat. Elderberry syrup is a proven treatment for flu and colds: In studies, it shortens recovery time by up to four days.

Even adding alcohol to your toddy has some health benefits: It can help you sleep, so your body can recover, as well as sweat out a fever, according to Taste of Home.

Of course, Taste of Home is a little plebian for Joel’s tastes.

Here’s his take on the hot toddy, for all of you battling end-of-winter colds and flu. It can be made without the whiskey, with a teabag soaked in your mugful of toddy water instead.


1 to 2 cups water
1 to 1 1/2 shots whiskey
1 1/2-inch piece of ginger, mashed with with mortar and pestle or diced fine
2 cinnamon sticks
6 to 8 cloves
6 to 8 allspice berries
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon, half sliced thin, half juiced

Simmer together on the stove for about 15 minutes, then strain into mugs. Makes enough for two.

6 thoughts on “RECIPE: Hot Toddy… FOR HEALTH!

  1. This looks like an interesting concoction;) I’m not a big drinker anymore but I might try all the other ingredients and see what happens:) Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

  2. I drank two hot toddies this weekend and it definitely helped my cold/sinus infection/congestion. I’ve also heard great things about elderberry so I’ll make sure to pick some up today. Thanks!

    • I found elderberry this winter at either a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe — I can’t remember. Both probably have it. I added a couple teaspoonfuls to my tea in the morning, when I didn’t have the time to chop and simmer and strain.

    • It’s especially delicious when my husband makes it! I hope he doesn’t mind I shared his recipe. It was hard to get — he’s one of those naturally talented folk who don’t really need “measurements” in the kitchen!

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