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Whiskey Tales

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Hot Toddy, It Cures What Ails Ya

March 2021

Some drinks are seasonal, like Egg Nog. Other drinks are strictly occasional, like the Hot Toddy. No able-bodied, healthy person of our modern times has ever walked into a bar and ordered a Hot Toddy. It's just something nobody seems to think about until we're sick at home. And even then, seldom do we have the motivation to put it all together in our infirm incapacitation.

Lucky are those bed-bound and surrounded by a mound of crumpled tissues with a loving spouse that is willing to assemble the right ingredients for a Hot Toddy. That soothing, fortifying, and spirit-lifting proscription which, even in the face of snot-bubbling malaise, can bring the slightest hope that this world is worth living for. With most of North America covered in snow and ice, now would seem the perfect time to refresh our memories of how to make this age-old elixir. 

There are many varying recipes for this drink, but the mainstay has always been honey, lemon, and whiskey. That's all you really need; I've made it that way many times before. Pour half a glass of whiskey into a microwave-safe glass or mug. Then squeeze the hell out of that plastic bear-shaped jar to gob in a huge glob of honey. Squeeze in some juice from the plastic-lemon that's been hiding behind the salad dressing on the door of the fridge. Heat it in the microwave, stir it all up, and sip away your maladies. Like my grandmother, Mimi, used to always say about whiskey, "It cures what ails ya."

That's the most straightforward recipe, and it works! That sweet, warm, soothing lemon-honey-whiskey mix is just the thing. It's not too hard to make, even when you're feeling bad, and it makes you feel better. But what if you're making it for someone else? Why not put a little more inspiration and class into it, right? So that's what I did with my most recent batch.

I did a little research and found that both beer and ginger were sometimes mentioned in a few old recipes. I decided to add in a bit of ginger-beer to see what that would do. And this time, I would use fresh lemon, and why not an orange too; nothing wrong with squeezing in a little vitamin C. I picked up some dark Buckwheat honey, and Maker's Mark will be the mix's main effort.

Not really measuring anything, I mixed the liquids and squeezed in the juice. I heated it in the microwave, not too much to cook out the whiskey's medicinal values, just enough to make it hot, then poured it into a crystal Waterford rocks glass (just because you have snot coming out of your nose doesn't mean you can't have some dignity). The smell of the lemon and honey filled the room and steamed the rim up the glass as I poured. I garnished it with some citrus slices and served it up on the ward.

Take your over-the-counter cold and flu pills every four hours, stay hydrated, and get lots of rest. That's supposed to help soothe your symptoms. The Hot Toddys will help soothe your soul, and maybe feel a little bit pampered too. It cures what ails ya. 



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