There’s a chill in the air and everyone is hustling and bustling to prepare for the holidays.  You’re bundled up and trying to de-stress, but you feel like you are coming down with a cold.  What to do?

Well, you could drink whiskey.

We’re serious!

If your grandparents didn’t already introduce you to the hot toddy, it’s time to make it your favorite winter tradition.

Hot toddies date back to at least the 18th century, when people came up with creative ways to disguise the taste of raw Scotch.  Traditionally, they were made by mixing the liquor, boiling water, sugar, and various spices.  More recently, it’s become popular to make them by steeping a cup of herbal tea*, then adding a small shot of whiskey or other hard liquor.  Stir that around with plenty of honey and top it off with a fresh lemon wedge, and you have a delicious remedy for whatever ails you.

So how scientific is this wonder “cure”?

Well, as it turns out, opinions are mixed.  Most experts agree that in general, drinking alcohol when you have a cold or other respiratory infection is not a good idea since it dries out your mucus membranes and is likely to make you more congested.  What’s more, alcohol can actually weaken your immune system.

However, the amount of alcohol in a hot toddy is small enough to avoid these issues.  You use just enough alcohol to feel relaxed, but not so much that you begin to feel worse.  The lemon wedge adds vitamin C, while honey coats your throat and quiets a cough.  It’s also popular to mix in some cinnamon, which is known for its anti-bacterial properties.  And experts agree that though there might not be a direct link between drinking a hot toddy and getting over your cold faster, anything you can do to minimize stress while you are feeling sick will help your body fight off the infection.  If you ask us, we think a hot toddy is the perfect way to do just that!

*Don’t mix alcohol with herbal tea that already contains a sedative, like valerian root.