The Irish Hot Whiskey: The Cure-All Recipe

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It's the rains, it's the pollution, it's chilly, it's all that nagging, it's everything around you. If you're feeling that way then this cure-all recipe is going to fill you with sunshine, inside out.

Several years ago, I found myself stuck in an island in Ireland after dark, having missed the last ferry back, sporting a cold and a rapidly rising fever. After watching the last boat chug away from me and grumbling to myself that the world was conspiring to kill me, I huddled into my coat and aimlessly walked around for a while. The next thing I remember is sitting in the corner booth of a noisy little restaurant, just shivering and struggling to keep my eyes open. If I wasn't alone, I wouldn't have looked so pathetic I'm sure, and honestly, I'm glad they didn't throw me out thinking I was a bum.

The next I remember is opening my eyes to find a cup of steaming liquid placed directly under my nose and a tall, portly woman wiping her hands on her apron telling me in a thick Irish brogue that I needed to drink that up real quick while it was still warm. I was about to say I didn't order it but there was something in the way she smiled at me kindly and nodded me toward the drink that I couldn't refuse. I burrowed my arms out of my coat sleeves, wrapped my hands around the warm cup, gave her a quick glance, and took a tentative sip. The world opened up. I must have looked like I'd achieved nirvana because I heard her roaring in laughter. I didn't look up again until I'd finished the drink and in clear precise words asked her if I could have another. She looked at me with an amused smile and I nodded to her question, "Better?"

Now that I was indeed feeling better, I looked around and noticed that the place was almost empty and they were cleaning up. I had seemingly walked in, sat in one corner, and dozed off huddled into my coat. I was embarrassed, to say the least. She came back with a second round and this time, I had the decency to apologize for my behavior. She looked over and shouted for something and sat down at the booth with me. I waited for her order to show up, clinked glasses, and proceeded to have one of those times in my life that'd feature in a book somewhere (or a blog even). She confessed that she'd never seen a brown girl so close in real life. Feeling a little flustered after she realized what she'd said, she kept repeating that she didn't mean it that way. After I waved at her vigorously to stop, I happily told her that I was glad to be the first one since she didn't have me thrown out for being a terrible customer.

It turns out that the pub I'd walked into was a place the island locals typically frequented, not so much the tourists since it wasn't on the main road. She thought I was gutsy for ignoring all the stares I got. I wanted to tell her - wait 'til you get to India.

Long story short, we became friends and I stayed the night over (so sweet!) and took the early morning ferry back to the mainland the next day. She did, however, share the recipe of the elixir she'd made for me. It's called 'Hot Whiskey' and is considered a cure-all. Apparently, it's a recipe passed down from generation to generation and each generation ends up adding their own twist to it.

The original traditional Irish recipe had a lot more spices in it and had a prescribed time of ten days (approximately) that the spices needed to be pickled. But unfortunately, the exact recipe has been lost to time. And so, here we are, with a version of the recipe that has evolved into something that may not cure all but definitely can cure some.

OTHER NOTES If you don't like the cloves settling at the bottom of the cup, you could decant the liquid into a fresh cup but it takes away the usefulness some. I am not a huge fan of adding lime to this recipe but it does add a new dimension to the taste if you suck at the lime after you're brave enough to have some of the spice sediment as well. If you're not a fan of whiskey (though I've converted a few to it with this recipe), you could use brandy or dark rum. In case my teetotaler friends are concerned out there, the boiling hot water evaporates the alcohol in the whiskey, making your regular cough syrup outstrip this drink.
As always, yenjai!


  • 50ml Whiskey or Brandy or Dark Rum
  • 10-12 Clove Buds
  • 1 tsp of Liquorice root (aka Jyeshti madhu), dried and powdered (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of Jungle Honey
  • 60ml Boiled Water
  • 1/4 wedge of a Lime (Optional)
Makes one hot cuppa Directions
  1. In a mortar and pestle, crush and grind the clove buds, making sure to crush each of the bulbs. You can also add a teaspoon of dried and powdered licorice root, if you have some. Pour it into a mug. 
  2. Add your preferred choice of whiskey and let it pickle for about 10 minutes, with a lid on the mug.
  3. After ten minutes, add some honey and let it sit for 10 more minutes. Put back the lid.
  4. Boil some water in a saucepan until you see it bubbling. Let it sit for a minute to two with the stove off until it stops bubbling. The temperature should be about 50-55 degree Celsius.
  5. Lift the lid from the mug and pour in the boiled water, about 60ml of it. Give it a quick stir, put the lid back on, and let it rest for about 3 minutes or until all the cloves have settled to the bottom of the mug. 
  6. Add a dash of lime just before serving. 
Sláinte mhaith!