Last week I had grand hopes of wrapping up my Ireland travel narratives with a decadent dessert, Whiskied Brown Bread Pudding. Unfortunately I hadn’t finalized the recipe. However, it did come in handy that we had a bottle of whiskey in the house. We needed it for medicinal purposes.
I was first served a hot whiskey in a tiny hostel pub on Achill Island in County Mayo. My cousin and I spent one night in the hostel and had to walk a fair distance for our dinner. We returned after dark and the marine air was a chilly even on a summer night. Back in the hostel we settled ourselves in the wood paneled pub. The proprietor offered us hot whiskies to get us warmed back up after the walk. There is something magical about the effects of a hot whiskey. In no time at all the steaming elixirs had us feeling cozy and relaxed.
I caught colds a few times while I was in Dublin. Twice I was completely laid out with tonsillitis and it was horrible, I can’t remember ever being sicker. At some point along the way I happened to mention not feeling well to one of the priests assigned to the University College Dublin campus where I was in school. He advised me, in all seriousness, to have a hot whiskey to clear up my symptoms. The next day I stopped into the pub for lunch with a friend and ordered the drink – for medicinal purposes. The sweet heady vapors of the whiskey and honey eased my muscle aches. Cloves have a natural numbing effect that soothed my scratchy throat. Bright lemon juice balances the other potentially cloying ingredients. It worked like a charm, or a prayer I suppose. My symptoms were reduced and by the next day I was fully restored (at least that is how I remember it happening).
Last week Mr. Second Helpings developed a sore throat and ter-rib-le cough. It was a sneaky cough that allowed him to be fairly functional during the day but as soon as he went to bed it sent him into fits. For several nights in a row he hacked, gagged, and sounded far more animalistic than human. Neither of us slept… On our brand new mattress… With memory foam…
The second night of the ordeal I got up to make him a hot whiskey. Based on my own experiences I knew it would magically cure him and we could both go to sleep.
It was the middle of the night when I stumbled into the kitchen and put on the kettle. Half asleep I managed to slice a lemon into mockingly cheerful circles. The lemon slices went into a mug with a scattering of cloves and about 1/2 a teaspoon of honey then I doused it all with a heavy slug of the Jameson I had on hand for my baking project. Lastly I filled the mug with the now hot water.
Before handing over the steaming brew I leaned in for a whiff. The amber vapors filled my sinuses in a velvety embrace.
Mr. Second Helpings sat slumped in a kitchen chair with a wadded tissue in his hand. His skin looked grey and pinched and if I hadn’t been falling asleep on my feet I probably would have been much more sympathetic. As it was I handed him the steaming hot whiskey and testily commanded, “drink this.” He sipped cautiously and I waited to see his body relax as the whiskey worked its magic. He grimaced and mumbled back, “I don’t like it.”
I should have taken it back and let the vapors work their magic on me then at least one of us would have slept. On our brand new mattress… With memory foam…
*UPDATE: Fun Fact I just learned – Tomorrow March 27th (or today depending on where in the globe you are) has been declared World Whiskey Day! Looks like you have another reason to enjoy a cocktail or my favorite just order a double straight up with no ice. Mmmm… that’ll get you feeling nice and celebratory.