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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


Single Malt Scotch Tasting & Food Pairing with David Blackmore

Glenmorangie Distillery
Glenmorangie Distillery

On Monday, December 6, 2010 Branches Catering will be serving up a Single Malt Scotch and Food Pairing with David Blackmore. The single malts will be from Glenmorangie. The name Glenmorangie  is believed to come from the Gaelic gleann mor na sith meaning “vale of tranquillity” . It is pronounced  glen-MOR- n-jee, with the stress on the ‘mor’ and rhyming with orangey.

Glenmorangie Distillery was founded in 1843 in Tain, Ross-shire  in the Scottish Highlands. Here, you will find the tallest malt whisky stills in Scotland (just an inch and three-quarters shy of 17 feet.) Glenmorangie’s esteemed single malts are matured in oak casks, and the distillation process is undertaken and perfected by a staff of 16, known as  “16 Men of Tain”.  The 16 Men of Tain are based on the popular Scottish legend that 16  Men of Tain took part in an epic battle that left only one man of  Tain standing. Of course, this happened after they perfected the distillation process. Today, The 16 Men of Tain religiously follow the tradition to make Glenmorangie Single Malt.

The key ingredient to Glenmorangie’s malt whisky is the water—the water comes from the Tarlogie Springs, which rise about a mile above the distillery.  These waters once fell as rain on the Hill of Tain, then filtered down through lime and sandstone rocks, gathering minerals on the way, before rising again at Tarlogie. It can take up to a hundred years for the falling rain to emerge as spring water. So precious is this source of water that Glenmorangie has acquired the entire catchment area of the spring, or some 650 acres.

Glenmorangie’s US Master Brand Ambassador, David Blackmore will be on hand to explain all about the distillery and lead an exciting tasting of award-winning single malts. David likes to tell his love of single malt scotch started on the day when he first walked through the doors of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh. He was smitten and joined the club that very day. Within a month he was working for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, becoming a member of the prestigious “Tasting Panel” responsible for selecting new casks for bottling. In 2004, he moved to London to become Assistant Manager and Whisky Tutor at the The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s London club room. During this time he chaired the SMWS tasting panel and had several “tasting notes” published.

In order to prepare for his role as the US Glenmorangie Brand Ambassador in New York City, he spent time working alongside the fabled 16 Men of Tain at the Glenmorangie distillery, Stuart Thomson at the Ardbeg Distillery and Graham Coull at Glen Moray. Since 2005, he has been sharing his knowledge on the delights of single malt scotch.

David will be on hand to dissuade the Scotch tasters of the notion that Scotch is too strong in both flavor and alcohol content to be consumed with a meal—even in Scotland there isn’t much of a tradition of drinking Scotch with dinner. Traditionally single malt Scotch is a delight usually served after dinner — and usually paired with a cigar—as pairing Scotch with food seems a bit of a challenge.

Challenge or not, Scotch can make excellent paring with meals. Here’s a helpful hint, serve your single malt neat, with the lightest splash of spring water. Toning down the alcohol this way allows the Scotch’s aromatic complexities to shine through and makes it easier to achieve a food and Scotch balance. Some things to take into consideration are the background nuances of the Scotch. Creamy, mature cheeses and rich cream dishes are rich enough to balance the alcohol.  Smoky flavors in the Scotch add another dimension to the richness and flavor of  salmon. Red meats, especially the gamy ones, or dishes like Lamb Chops with Coffee-Chocolate Sauce make great partners with Scotch. So does chocolate. The dark, rich espresso and chocolate flavors will match with similar flavors in the Scotch. For dessert you could continue the chocolate-coffee-Scotch theme or try a rich dessert such as Crème Brûlée.

The menu for the evening takes the above suggestions into account and will be starting with a selection of Scottish and English Cheese from an excellent local cheese shop, ‘Cheese on Main’ in Ocean Grove. Owner Susan Morris has searched and selected some choice cheeses that are guaranteed to pair beautifully with the evening’s Scotch tasting.

The first Scotch to be tasted on December 6th will be Glenmorangie The Original (10 Year Old). This is the velvety textured Scotch that most associate with Glenmorangie. The Original has delicate, honeyed overtones and a burst of citrus that softens into vanilla and almond flavors. There is just a touch of smokiness in the background to remind you of warm winter nights in front of the fire.

Branches’ chef will be pairing The Original with Crab Rangoon with Tamarind-Ginger Chutney. These delicious crispy dumplings filled with scallions & crab meat and the complex, tart citrusy chutney are designed to complement the Scotch. Scallops wrapped with bacon add a richness and a complimentary smoky quality while samplers of lobster and cream cappuccino will be rich enough to balance the alcohol and satify the diners.

The second single malt of the evening will bee Glenmorangie The Lasanta (Sherry Cask Finish). Glenmorangie Lasanta is an elegant and full-bodied single malt whisky that has been  matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks after a minimum of 10 years in ex-bourbon casks.  This Scotch is  luscious, mouth-filling, with deep, enticing, sweet aromas of spiced orange and chocolate-covered hazelnuts. Any chocolate lover will instantly see why this single malt is a sure-fire favorite. It has the full, sweet flavors typical of Spanish sherry: oranges, sultanas, toffee, and walnuts. The satisfyingly long spiced orange and chocolate nut finish should pair beautifully with the menu’s offering of  Chicken Mole’ where the savory combination of chocolate and peanuts in mixed with fresh chilies and spices make for an enlightened pairing..

Once we’ve tried the Sherry cask can a Port cask be far behind? With Glenmorangie the  next scotch is a velvety-textured single malt transferred from the original ex-bourbon cask and then extra matured or “finished” in port pipes, shipped from the  wine estates of Portugal.

Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban (Port Cask Finish)  is a voluptuously smooth complex balance of sweet and dry flavors. Oven-roasted Brussels Sprouts tossed with Garbanzo Beans, lemon and grated Parmesan will be the first pairing for this intriguing single malt’s balance of smooth velvet and crisp, cooling textures. The velvety Quinta Ruban offers a swathe of rich, dark chocolate nuttiness and sugar-coated crystallized orange segments countered by crisp mint chocolate. The chiffon-like texture and lingering chocolate notes should balance nicely with the second pairing, Entrecote of Beef rubbed with smoked paprika, served with creamy peppercorn sauce.

For Dessert, Branches will be pairing Glenmorangie The Nectar D’Or (Sauternes Cask Finish) with Crème Brûlée flame-torched in the room. The Sauternes wine barriques infuse the Scotch with the signature honey, citrus and spice aroma of the Sauternes dessert wine that lingers in the wooden casks. The Scotch takes on the pale, lemony, gold transparency and honeyed taste that inspired the name, Nectar D’Or.  This is a favorite sophisticated complex whisky and a perfect pairing for this sensuous custard.

With each whisky  exquisitely paired with a different course this should be a  delicious and luxurious Single Malt Scotch Whisky dinner experience. Signed bottles will be available at  the end of dinner for purchase.

On an interesting side note, Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky has become the first major single malt scotch brand to attain OU certification. Glenmorangie Original was kosher-certified by the Orthodox Union (OU), as has Glenmorangie Astar. Glenmorangie’s sister distillery, Ardbeg has also received OU Kosher certification for Ardbeg 10 yr old as well.

This pairing will take place at  7:00 PM Monday, December 6, 2010 at  Branches Catering, 123 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch, NJ 07764. The cost is $45 per person plus tax.   For more information or reservations, please call: 732.542.7790

MENU (stations)
A selection of Scottish and English Cheese from
‘Cheese on Main’ in Ocean Grove
Glenmorangie The Original (10 Yr)
Crab Rangoon with Tamarind-Ginger Chutney
Scallops wrapped with bacon
Samplers of Lobster Bisque ‘Cappuccino’
Glenmorangie The Lasanta (Sherry Cask Finish)
Chicken Mole’
Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban (Port Cask Finish)
Entrecote of Beef rubbed with smoked paprika, served with creamy peppercorn sauce
Oven-roasted Brussels Sprouts tossed with Garbanzo Beans, lemon and grated Parmesan

Glenmorangie The Nectar D’Or (Sauternes Cask Finish)
Crème Brulee flame-torched in the room