Healthy immune system

How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold

Matthew Nesbitt
By Matthew Nesbitt. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold

As the summer comes to an end and fall is upon us, temperatures begin to cool and the days get shorter. As the leaves drop, cold and flu symptoms seem to rise. This is because rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, most frequently the cause of the dreary common cold, replicate more in this cool dry weather typical of early spring and autumn. A delicious and effective way of treating these symptoms is with a zesty hot toddy. A small amount of your preferred liquor has medical backing to treat some of these symptoms, but over-doing it will make things worse and, as always, we encourage you to drink responsibly.

If you're feeling under the weather, or just want something cosy during those dark evenings, keep reading our method of how to make the perfect hot toddy.

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  1. Which Liquor to Use
  2. Honey and Lemon
  3. Nice and Spicy
  4. Method

Which Liquor to Use

Many Scots make the claim that the hot toddy was their invention to combat the winter blues, with the drink being made from spices imported from The East India Company. Although particularly useful in the often harsh winters of the highlands, many cultures have their own variants and it is unlikely that any one country can claim to be the true originators.

If you want to go for the Scottish style, then a decent measure of whisky will work well. As you dilute the whisky with hot water, you might want to choose a stronger flavored whisky, such as those common to the Isle of Islay. The sweeter Speyside whisky of the highlands will lose its flavor in the mix. You also don't need to buy an expensive single malt as many whisky purists will say this is a waste. A decent blend such as Black Bottle or even a Cutty Sark can do the trick.

Grog, is a similar drink which uses rum instead of whisky and it can be used here too. This is thought to be derived from early travellers to the West Indies. Dark liquors such as brandy or bourbon seem to work well, but really you can use whatever takes your fancy. Using a flavored liqueur such as Drambuie or Gran Marnier can add a completely different range of tastes to your toddy, but sometimes their lower alcohol content can lower their effectiveness.

Honey and Lemon

Part of a hot toddy's charm is the delicious mix of sweet and sour. This is provided by the two main ingredients - honey and lemon. Honey on its own is a natural antioxidant and when mixed with a peaty whisky, the soft sweet notes cut through the medicinal quality to give great balance. Undercutting this are the citric acids found in lemon, and you will want to use both the juice and peel in your perfect hot toddy. For a large mug size of hot toddy, you want about a half a lemon's worth of juice to go with a big shot of honey.

How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold - Honey and Lemon

Nice and Spicy

With the other half of your lemon, cut a large segment, but do not squeeze it. This is because you will want to use it for our next ingredient: cloves. Cloves are both a natural antibacterial and an analgesic (pain reliever). If you have a sore throat or nasal passage, this will help clear away bacteria and soothe the pain at the back of your mouth. Stud the cloves into the pith of the lemon slice as this will stop them floating about in the drink and prevent a choking hazard.

Our next ingredient is cinnamon which works as an anti-inflammatory. This means it will help reduce any swelling you might have because of your cold. You can buy cinnamon powder, but, although this works for flavor, it will leave a gritty residue at the bottom of your mug and can make your last gulp a little unpleasant. Instead, use a decent sized piece of cinnamon stick as this will give you all the flavor, but won't impede your enjoyment. You can even use it as a stirrer to keep those wonderful flavors moving round your mug. Star anise works in a similar way and its appealing shape adds a nice aesthetic.

Some people want a real kick, so they might incorporate a little cayenne pepper or mace to blast those airways and help clear them out. However, using the powdered form will again leave a gritty residue. Fresh nutmeg and ginger are also very good for you and compliment the toddy well. If you want to be decadent, pop in a vanilla pod to give a more rounded sensation to the palate.

How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold - Nice and Spicy


There are two ways to make a hot toddy. If you are in a rush, you can do it in the cup or mug itself. Put on a kettle of water and choose your glass. You can use a thick tumbler, but a glass mug with a handle is ideal. This way, when it is too hot you can still hold it without burning yourself and when it begins to cool, you can hold your hands around it to keep warm on a cold day.

Put a decent measure (35-50ml) of whisky into the mug and then put in your cinnamon stick, clove studded lemon and dollop of honey. Once the water is boiled, pour two parts water to one part whisky into the mug. Stir thoroughly with a spoon and enjoy.

How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold - Method

The downside to this method is that is that the drink will cool more quickly and there isn't much time for all those lovely flavors and spices to infuse into your toddy. For the really perfect hot toddy, you should put all your preferred ingredients in a saucepan and warm on a low heat. Add a little extra water as this will evaporate away as it warms up. Once it is nice and hot, but not boiling, pour the mixture through a fine strainer into your mug.

This is the foolproof way to get the perfect hot toddy and is ideally enjoyed in a big comfy chair by a roaring fire.

How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold -

Of course, if your cold persists and you think it might be something more sinister, you should go to your local doctor for a check up.

If you want to know some more home remedies to treat your cold, check out our articles on Home Remedies for Headache due to Cold and How to Use Ginger for Colds and Flu.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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How to Make the Perfect Hot Toddy to Treat a Cold