Folk Remedy- “Hot Toddy”

Remedy: a “hot toddy,” or warm drink consisting of tea, lemon, and “one shot to half of a shot” of whiskey.

The informant states that the above drink is supposed to be a remedy for the “cold, flu, or if you are feeling under the weather.” He learned this in childhood from many of the “elders” of his family or friends—“particularly the older generation of men”—who would suggest this as a remedy. The informant states that whether or not the remedy is used may “depend on how badly you feel” but is “kind of arbitrary”: you may use it “one time and not another.” The informant claims to have only used the remedy himself “two to three times” and didn’t really remember how well it worked, stating “maybe once it made me feel better, but I’m mostly guessing.”

As can be seen from the statements of the informant, a medical doctor, he possessed no strong opinion either way as to the efficacy of  the “hot toddy” remedy. One thing that was interesting, however, was that he remarked that “there’s more of a tendency for those who have used it [in the past] to use it every time they feel under the weather,” which, though the informant didn’t explicitly make this accusation, may attest to the propensity of this drink to be used more for its whiskey content than for its specific salutary use for ailments. Similarly, the informant’s statement that it was the “older generation of men” who proposed this drink as a remedy makes one wonder whether the concept of a “hot toddy” might not have been used merely as a good way to make light of (as in a euphemism; cf. “grandpa’s old cough syrup”) or conceal one’s propensity for liquor consumption.