The Soothing Nature of the Hot Toddy
January 26, 2023
M. Carrie Allan of the Washington Post writes about the Hot Toddy, with a few quotes from me related to Doctors and Distillers.
A hot toddy won’t cure your cold, but it will warm your spirits
The hot toddy anecdote in his book calls to mind too many more recent stories of overwhelmed health-care personnel: “During the 1918 influenza epidemic, staff at one hospital reported, ‘We could give them a little hot whiskey toddy; that’s about all we had time to do.’ The effectiveness of whiskey against the flu was debated, but many doctors agreed it could soothe the suffering of patients in any case.”
Note the distinction between soothing and curing: Essentially, these poor nurses and doctors were using alcohol as a sedative, not as something they expected to get patients off their deathbeds. I want to make sure that’s clear. Not only are the health risks of alcohol abuse clear, but in the wake of a pandemic (are we in the wake? The side-sploosh? The doldrums?), in which people have seized upon bits of data and half-truths to promote horse dewormer, volcanic ash and UV light as “cures” for covid, I am no longer as tickled by folk remedies as I once was. Snake oil is snake oil, even if the snake you’re lickin’ is a delicious hot toddy. Or as the disclaimer in English’s book puts it: “If you need medicine, talk to your doctor. If you need a cocktail, see your local mixologist.”
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