Chances are, you or someone you know will get the flu and you will be looking for relief anywhere you can find it. I’ve been told that “science” says drinking in moderation—as in two cocktails a day—can boost the body’s immune system.

If you catch the dreaded influenza virus this flu season (January and February are peak months), instead of wasting your money wandering the aisles of your local pharmacy, trying every over the counter remedy you can get your hands on, head to your liquor store, grab a nice bottle of whiskey and make a hot toddy instead.

For decades people have used the hot toddy as a natural remedy for easing all those aches and pains associated with the common cold. It was assumed that it was one of those natural remedies, like chicken soup, that works because your brain thinks it works, not because there is actual science behind it. But as it turns out, a hot toddy is actually pretty great, from a scientific perspective, at soothing your cold.

Whiskey is a great decongestant — the alcohol dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection — and, combined with the herbal tea, a squeeze of honey, lemon, and the warm steam emanating from the drink, you have the perfect concoction for helping to clear up your cold symptoms. By the time you finish the drink, you won’t only be breathing a bit easier, but the alcohol will also start working its magic in the sleep department, making you just groggy enough so you can get some much needed shuteye.

This “Bourbon Cough Syrup for Grownups is a tasty whiskey cocktail can make being sick it a little more tolerable. It contains vitamin C-rich lemon juice, honey—a natural cough suppressant and decongestant—and, two shots of bourbon. The honey does most of the heavy lifting, but the pain-relieving properties of whiskey certainly won’t make you feel any worse.

BOURBON COUGH SYRUP FOR GROWNUPS

  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 – 4 ounces water (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Mix the bourbon, lemon juice, and water (if using) in a tumbler or mug and heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds. (You can also do this on the stovetop in a little saucepan.) Take out and add the honey. Whisk to combine, then microwave for another 45 seconds.

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Just be sure to stick to one of these cocktails per day and drink plenty of other fluids, as too much alcohol will dehydrate the body and lengthen the flu’s duration.

The reason most people rely on cold and flu drugs like Nyquil is because they not only ease our congestion, they help us fall asleep. The ingredients in a hot toddy do the exact same thing. Sleep is the primary way your body is able to fight off a cold so that you’re well rested. You could use Nyquil, but a hot toddy works just as well at relieving your symptoms, and it works a bit more naturally, so you can sleep. One benefit of a hot toddy over Nyquil is the lack of that hazy Nyquil hangover many people often develop in the morning. Another benefit of whiskey is  the alcohol helps fight off infection and the growth of microorganisms.

Here’s a favorite easy, go-to hot toddy recipe.

  • 8 oz Hot Water
  • 1 Bag Herbal Tea
  • 1oz Bourbon
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Lemon Wedge

Pour hot water into mug and steep tea for 2-3 minutes. Remove tea bag and add honey, stirring to dissolve. Pour in whiskey, add squeeze of lemon, stir and find relief.

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As with any remedy that incorporates booze as a main ingredient, there is such a thing as too many hot toddies if your goal is to actually feel better. While the alcohol in one drink is great for falling asleep and feeling refreshed, one too many and the sleep you receive won’t be that refreshing at all, and could cause you to wake up the next morning feeling worse.

 

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