Cold and flu season is upon us, which means it’s time to bust out the home remedies for coughs, sniffles, and the rest of the symptoms we expect in the winter months. If you’ve never tried a hot toddy to alleviate those cold symptoms, then this delicious concoction may be exactly what you’ve been looking for moving forward.
A hot toddy is a simple cough and sore throat remedy made with just a few ingredients (though it can also be made into a cocktail if that’s your fancy). A hot toddy typically consists of hot water, honey, and lemon juice at the bare minimum. Other ingredients often added include ginger, peppermint, and a pinch of sea salt.
One of the best ingredients you can add if you’re feeling frisky (and can handle the heat) is a healthy dash of cayenne pepper. Research suggests that the capsaicin found in the peppers has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties (namely, the flavonoids and carotenoids) may help protect against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress — an imbalance between damaging molecules called free radicals and antioxidant defenses in the body. The pepper will also burn your throat similarly to menthol, leaving it smoother and less sensitive than before. (Note: don’t add this to your alcoholic hot toddy — it’s really for sick days only).
Anyways, back to the hot toddy.
Here is what the research says about the common hot toddy ingredients
We’ve praised the many health benefits of local honey before, and for good reason. It has antimicrobial properties that can slow or kill the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. It also scored better than actual cough suppressants back in a 2007 study for kids 2-18 years old.
Hot drinks have been clearing nasal cavities for generations. They also warm you up, providing a sense of relaxation and ease, which is crucial for fighting off infections. Steeping ginger root in the hot water will infuse the water with one of nature’s most potent immune system boosters, too.
Bottom line: make sure your hot toddy is HOT, and don’t be afraid to spice up the water (cinnamon works well, too).
Lemons are a wonderful source of vitamin C — perhaps the most crucial micronutrient you can consume during times of sickness. Vitamin C contributes to a multitude of other bodily functions, too, like collagen production. Ingesting your vitamin C in a bioavailable form like fruit will help ensure that more of it gets absorbed in your gut, as well.
How to make the perfect hot toddy cocktail
If you aren’t sick and just want to enjoy a deliciously warm beverage, check out this incredible cocktail we love. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cup water
- 1 green tea or black tea bag
- 1 ½ ounces rye whiskey or bourbon
- 1 ounce real apple cider
- ½ small lemon
- Suggested garnishes: thin, round slices of lemon, a cinnamon stick, and star anise
Bring the water to a simmer and carefully pour it over the tea bag into your favorite cocktail mug, leaving about an inch of room in your mug for the whiskey and cider. Let the tea steep for a few minutes, then discard the bag — this keeps it from getting bitter. Like we said before, ginger would work here, too!
Pour in the whiskey or bourbon and a hefty splash of apple cider (adjust these amounts to suit your tastes). Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and garnish with lemon slices, a cinnamon stick, and a star anise if you like the flavor. Let’s drink to our holiday health!