Three Hot Alcoholic Drinks for Winter Cold and Flu Symptoms

published by Sylvia Clare on Nov 1, 2010

The medicinal merits of alcohol such as brandy and red wine have long been known. These three hot alcoholic beverages are traditional remedies used by my grandmother to help ease cough, stuffiness, insomnia and other symptoms of cold and flu. Please drink in moderation.

One humorous home remedy for the common cold goes like this:

“Take a bottle of whiskey and go to bed. Hang your hat on the bedpost. Drink whiskey until you see two hats. Go to sleep.”

While this isn’t the recommended method of dealing with the common cold or flu, some alcoholic beverages may help relieve cold and flu symptoms, and help you relax and sleep more soundly when you have a cold or mild flu. These include:

  • Blueberry Tea
  • Hot Toddy
  • Mulled Wine

**If you have an underlying health condition or alcohol intolerance, don’t try these beverages. Avoid alcohol if you have severe flu symptoms or are taking medication. These beverages are not for children. For traditional non-alcoholic home remedies for cough, sore throat, cold or mild flu symptoms, please read Eight Simple Home Remedies for Cough and Sore Throat.

Recipe for Blueberry Tea

There are no blueberries in Blueberry Tea, but it can help beat the winter blues. The orange pekoe tea contains caffeine, so Blueberry Tea won’t knock you out the same way a Hot Toddy will. If you don’t want the effects of caffeine, use decaf or green tea. However it’s the orange pekoe (black tea) blending with amaretto and Grand Marnier that gives the “faux blueberry” flavor.

Ingredients for Blueberry Tea:

  • 3/4 oz amaretto
  • 3/4 oz Grand Marnier
  • orange pekoe tea
  • orange slice as garnish

Blueberry Tea is best prepared and served in a brandy snifter.

Preparation: How to Make Blueberry Tea

Steep tea for 2-4 minutes in a teapot. Pre-heat the snifter. Add amaretto and Grand Marnier to the snifter. Pour in the tea, until snifter is about two-thirds full. Garnish with orange slice on side of glass, or float the orange slice in the drink. Stir. Serve hot. Enjoy.

Recipe for Hot Toddy

The hot toddy is a traditional European remedy for cough, cold, tension, insomnia and general malaise. If you have a cold or mild flu, one hot toddy can easily send you to slumberland, so don’t plan any activities unless they involve napping.

Ingredients for a Hot Toddy:

  • one cup hot water or green tea
  • 2 cloves (whole)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon wedge or 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 ounces brandy, rum OR scotch

Preparation: How to Make a Hot Toddy

Add cloves and cinnamon stick to tea or hot water. If using tea, let tea steep for 2-4 minutes. Add honey and lemon. Add liquor of choice. Serve hot. Enjoy.

See also Eight Home Remedies for Cough and Sore Throat.

Recipe for Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is a popular drink at Christmas and throughout the long, cold winter. It’s a hot drink traditionally enjoyed with friends, so the recipe below makes four servings. You can use either red or white wine. Red wine has more health benefits to the heart and circulatory system, but white wine makes a lighter-tasting mulled wine. This recipe uses red wine.

Ingredients for Mulled Red Wine:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves (whole)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
  • 1 750ml (26-oz) bottle of red wine
  • 1 orange, cut in wedges or sliced

Preparation: How to Make Mulled Red Wine

In a large pot, boil the water and add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Boil gently for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the wine and orange. Return to heat, and warm on low heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Do not allow the wine to boil. Boiling causes alcohol to evaporate, and weakens the flavors.

After 30 minutes, remove from heat. Strain the wine through a fine cheesecloth or colander, and serve hot. Share with friends, especially if you’ve given them your cold. Enjoy.

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