Bourbon is a variation of whiskey made with corn, rye and barley malt. It’s a uniquely American product that dates back to Kentucky’s pioneer days—settlers with a bit of extra corn fermented and distilled it, creating a new kind of whiskey that came to be associated with Bourbon County. Although it can’t cure a cold, folk wisdom points to bourbon’s soothing properties when included in a hot beverage.
Bourbon Cough Syrup
Heat equal parts bourbon and lemon juice in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove. If you’re leery of the alcohol content, start with 1 oz. bourbon and 1 oz. of lemon juice; you can add an equal amount of water if you like, although it isn’t necessary. If your cold is particularly fierce, double the dosage to 2 oz. each of bourbon and lemon juice. Whisk in a tbsp. of honey and heat thoroughly until the honey is dissolved in the beverage.
Bourbon Hot Toddy
The aromatic clove-and-lemon combination in this drink helps open clogged sinuses while the bourbon soothes a scratchy throat. If you’re a fan of lemon tea, consider this a supercharged version. Start with 2 or 3 oz. of bourbon in a teacup. Add 1 oz. of honey and the juice of two lemon wedges. Poke holes in a third lemon wedge and insert sticks of clove. Drop the cloved wedge into your mug and add boiling water. Let the mixture steep and make sure to stir it up before you drink it.
Martha Stewart offers this alcoholic cider as a dessert substitute, but without the extraneous whipped cream, seeds and nuts, it’s a soothing nightcap for those suffering with a sniffle. Heat 1 cup of apple juice or apple cider in a saucepan on the stove. Whisk in 2 tbsp. of brown sugar and one shot of bourbon and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Trina’s Starlite Lounge Hot Toddy
This Somerville, Massachusetts hotspot offers a hot toddy with a kick—if you’re not a fan of hot sauce, this might not be the drink for you. Although this bourbon toddy makes a good cocktail, the spice-and-citrus combination works to break up sinus congestion and soothe a cough. Mix 1 1/2 oz. of bourbon, 1 tbsp. of hot sauce, 1 tbsp. of maple syrup and enough hot water to fill your mug. Toss in two lemon wedges and stir thoroughly.
Cold Comfort Cocktail
Vermont Public Radio’s staff-authored collection of cold remedies includes this soothing cocktail, filled with aromatic mint, ginger and citrus. Start by dissolving 1/2 a cup of honey in at least 3 cups of hot water. Pour in 1/2 a cup of lemon juice, 4 tbsp. of fresh peeled ginger root, 1/4 cup of bourbon and two mint teabags. Let the teabags steep for a few minutes, then remove them and re-heat the drink if necessary.
Jenni Wiltz's fiction has been published in "The Portland Review," "Sacramento News & Review" and "The Copperfield Review." She has a bachelor's degree in English and history from the University of California, Davis and is working on a master's degree in English at Sacramento State. She has worked as a grant coordinator, senior editor and advertising copywriter and has been a professional writer since 2003.