That season is upon us, and if you start feeling under the weather maybe it’s time to consider a more “natural” treatment. We’re all familiar with “Jewish penicillin” aka chicken noodle soup from growing up, but as adults we qualify for some better common cold remedies. One reason we love over the counter treatments like Nyquil is they contain sedating antihistamines that help us fall asleep. Problem is, they often leave a dense fog in your brain the next morning that’s hard to shake.

Put down the Robitussin, skip the crowded waiting room at the doctor’s office, and give that copay to your local bartender next time a cold or flu springs its grasp on you.

So next time you’re looking for an alternative approach to cure the common cold, try one of these cocktails instead.

The Original Hot Toddy

You can’t go wrong with the original, recommended for decades by your eccentric Aunt.

  • 1½ ounce brown liquor such as brandy, whiskey or rum
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Lemon wedge, cinnamon stick and star anise, for garnish (optional)

Morning Tip: Ditch the Dayquil and supplement some black tea into your Hot Toddy. The extra caffeine should help balance out the alcohol. Just don’t overdo it!

Courtesy The Artful Gourmet



The Yuletide Toddy

A twist of maple syrup and a dash cinnamon makes for the ultimate winter warmer.

  • 2 ounces hot water
  • 1½ ounces Makers Mark Bourbon
  • ½ ounce Amaro Abano
  • ¼ ounce maple syrup
  • 3 dashes Bar Keep Baked Apple Bitters
  • Cinnamon stick, to garnish

Courtesy Midnight Cowboy



St. Bruno’s Cure

This drink takes a tropical twist, and thanks to Angostura which was originally created by German doctor Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert to help upset stomachs in soldiers fighting for Simon Bolivar’s army. It’s combined with black peppercorns, which work as an expectorant to help break up phlegm.

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce yellow Chartreuse liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 ounces apple cider
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce honey
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 apple slice

Photograph by Matt Duckor


Winter’s Truce

Ginger has a proven track record for treating a nausea, headaches, and coughing. It’s packed with essential oils, antioxidants, and oleoresin, a compound known for its ability to suppress coughing. When you add some honey and lemon along with a bit of echinacea extract you get a tasty cold fighting beverage.

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ ounce green Chartreuse liqueur
  • ½ unaged grappa (such as Nardini) or other white spirit (such as white whiskey)
  • ¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce liquid echinacea extract
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Photograph by Matt Duckor

Flor de Puebla

Think about the last time you ate a really spicy pepper. Did your nose start running? The active compound in spicy peppers, capsaicin, is known to reduce sinus congestion and break up mucus.

  • 1 bag green tea, preferably Hojicha
  • ½ Fresno chile, with seeds, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ounce Drambuie
  • 1 ounce tequila resposado (such as Pueblo Viejo)
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¼ ounce Brancamenta (mint liqueur)
  • 1 slice lime slice


Is this just a bunch of holistic hooey?

Maybe you’re a little skeptical of natural cold remedies. As it turns out, science backs the idea that booze might offer some real medical properties. This Carnegie Mellon report shows people who drink were the least likely to catch a cold. Another study by a group in Spain examined 4272 faculty members and found those who consumed moderate amounts of red wine had significantly less risk of getting sick. Finally, a team of researchers at Oregon Health & Science University trained 12 rhesus macaques to drink booze and compared their immune response after receiving a vaccine. Their study showed the monkeys who drank moderate amounts had a better response than the ones who didn’t drink. The monkeys who got really wasted didn’t show the same response, suggesting moderate consumption is key.

So just remember, while these cold remedies are so good you might find yourself faking sick more often, make sure you keep consumption down to moderate levels. Too much of a good thing can work against you.

h/t Bon Appetit