Saturday, December 10, 2011

Toddy with tea (cough, cough)

I sound like a goose (honk, honk) running late for the trek southward. It's three in the afternoon and I'm still in bed, in nightshirt and robe, surrounded by tissues, Advil, a pot of tea (of course), three quilts and a very cozy cat.

This stubborn head cold began a couple of days ago as a scratchy throat. Just recently, I'd read a blurb in Time Out magazine about some trendy bars in town serving up creative hot toddies, and I thought: that's the ticket! So I set to perfecting my recipe. Medicinal purposes, you understand.

It's quite restorative, though. The basics of a toddy: whiskey, honey, lemon, spice and hot water. In my book, there's absolutely no sense in using plain hot water; you want flavor, you want spice, so use tea. Black tea goes well with the whiskey — into a mug balanced to taste and tolerance, plus juice from half a lemon, a hefty squeeze of honey, and I add some ground spices (cinnamon and ginger), though whole would be fine if you can let them steep a bit (perhaps in the tea).

The origin of the toddy itself may have a connection to tea:

No one knows who created this drink or who named it. Some believe that since there was a lot of trade with Great Britain and India at this time that the name might have come from an Indian beverage named toddy, which is created from fermenting palm tree sap. Others believe that the name came from Allan Ramsay’s 1721 poem, The Morning Interview, in which Ramsay refers to the water used for a tea party as coming from Todian Spring (which was also called Tod’s well). As Todian Spring is the water supply for Edinburgh and as hot water is one of the most important ingredients in a hot toddy, it’s possible this is where our beloved warm libation acquired its name.

Either way, it's been wonderful on the throat. Given that ethanol evaporates around 180 F, you can control the alcohol content by aiming your liquid temperature higher or lower, but keeping the alcohol in helps you relax. Nyquil's full of it, after all.

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