A medical expert’s official opinion on whether hot Irish whiskey, cloves, sugar, and lemon is a cure for the common cold.

A dram of your finest Irish whiskey, cloves, honey/sugar, and lemon is everything you need for a good night’s sleep, to keep the chill off your bones and ward off that winter cold. Turns out that the science behind the lovely warming drink is on the side of the Irish – a hot whiskey really is medicinal.

While, of course, you should get a flu jab and follow the instructions doled out by your doctor, it seems there’s some truth behind the fact that a hot whiskey really does help you get over the common cold.

Here's what a dose of hot Irish whiskey can help cure:

Sleepless nights

One of the biggest reasons you feel awful when you have a cold is the lack of sleep. In steps a shot of your best Jameson, Teelings, or even Bushmills (if you’re feeling flush) to help you guide off into a restful sleep.

Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Center at the University of Cardiff in Wales, confirmed it! He told the Telegraph the alcohol acts as a sedative, but he did warn that while the hot water burns off some of the alcohol and over-generous measure of the “uisce beatha” (“water of life”) will detract from the drink’s benefits.

Eccles has in fact proven, through studies, that “if you over-indulge, you'll block your nose and get a very poor quality of sleep. So long as you're not overdoing it, it won't do any harm and it could be beneficial.”

Aches and pains

Well… this one is obvious! Since whiskey was invented it’s been used as an anesthetic. This wonderful tranquilizer will make you care a lot less about your aches and pains.


So, according to VinePair, the alcohol in your hot whiskey “dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection.”

This is pretty disgusting, but according to Professor Eccles, an expert in colds, “a hot toddy is equivalent to any sort of hot drink. The more it promotes salivation, the more it promotes mucus secretion, and mucus is our first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. That's why it contains honey and lemon – it stimulates both sweet and sour."

Sore throat

Whether you’re a purist and only use cloves or you like to branch out and include ginger or cinnamon there’s a reason behind including them. Eccles points out that these spices promote salvation, which soothes a sore throat and dry cough.

All in your head?

While Eccles doesn’t quite agree that the hot whiskey is the cure to the common cold, he does agree that each element has its own benefit and when combined they, as the Telegraph put it, “have a potent psychological impact on the drinker.”

Well, that’s enough for us! Whether you’re getting a case of the winter blues or you feel a sniffle coming on, get out the bottle of whiskey and stick on the kettle. But remember, just stick to the one or you might feel the worse for it in the morning.

How to make a hot Irish whiskey

Here’s our guide and recipe on how to make a classic hot Irish whiskey:


  • A good Irish whiskey (Jameson or Powers is ideal!)
  • A heatproof glass
  • 7/8 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Slice of lemon

Prep Time: 5 minutes


Fill a kettle to boil hot water.

Place a metal spoon in a glass (will prevent glass from breaking) into the glass to pre-heat it, before emptying it out.

Cut a slice of lemon, remove the pips and stick some cloves into the fruit.

Put a teaspoon of sugar into the glass followed by a shot of Irish whiskey.  Give the whiskey and sugar mixture a bit of a stir and try to dissolve the lumps.

Add boiling water and then stir.

Add the lemon and additional cloves (if desired) to the mix.

Wrap a wee napkin around the glass, so you don’t scald yourself.


How to make the perfect Irish whiskey hot toddy

Warm up with this classic Irish cocktail! Whether you call it a hot whiskey or a hot toddy, it's the perfect antidote to a cold winter's day. Get the full recipe here: http://bit.ly/2hhTb9G

Publiée par IrishCentral.com sur Mardi 27 décembre 2016

* Originally published in 2017. Updated in January 2024.