Taking the chill out of the common cold

We’re still in recovery mode from a nasty cold bug at Seven Trees. Not much happening but the bare necessities of critter care and making it to work & back. One thing that is helping us feel better is hot spiced cider. The recipe we use is this:

  • 3 parts apple cider
  • 1 part grape juice
  • 1 or 2 cloves
  • piece of cinnamon bark
  • dusting of nutmeg
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of ‘elderhooch’

I usually pour the juice & cider into mugs first, to get the serving size right, then dump it into a pan to heat on the stove with the spices. The elderhooch is measured into the mugs, unheated, and the hot cider poured on top to mix. (Elderhooch is what I call the tincture of elderberries we decoct in vodka. Elderberries are a good flu remedy, but a general immune system booster as well.) The grape juice gives the cider a nice kick, and we have some home-canned in the pantry. But plain apple cider would work just as well.

Another tasty version of this ‘remedy’ is adding red wine in place of the grape juice. Make sure not to overheat it which evaporates away the alcohol. 

Which brings us ever-so-close to fall/winter/holiday drinks often served hot, spicy & with a kick.

Our favorite fictional characters, Jack Aubrey and his particular friend Stephen Maturin, drink a hot spiced port/wine concoction called negus. Here’s a single-serving recipe if you’re not up to a crowd-sized batch. In later years, negus was considered an appropriate party beverage for children. Looking at this recipe, I can only imagine the birthday party carnage.

The Swedes have a robust hot wine drink called glogg that includes almonds and raisins. Another old-school cold remedy is a hot toddy. The citrus and spices can’t hurt, and warm whiskey is very relaxing. In pre-modern tmes, fireside drinks were heated with a poker straight out of the coals. One category of poker-heated drinks is the ‘flip‘.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was first used in 1695 to describe a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar, heated with a red-hot iron. The iron caused the drink to froth up, and it is from this frothing (or “flipping”) that the name was born.

One recipe for ale flip from Meals Medicinal, by W. T. Fernie, 1905, reads:

“Ale flip “is warmed Ale, or Beer, to which sugar, cognac, or rum, and ginger, with nutmeg, have been added; this is then beaten up with some stirred, or frothed eggs (half the whites being left out), and is well mixed.”

(Do take a look at the other medicinal recipes on this site. Who knew our recent ancestors used hoppy ale for morning sickness?!)

One last category of traditional restorative hot drinks is the caudle. Caudles usually involved ale or wine, thickened with eggs, and was often served to invalids. Here are some very old recipes, explored by a historical reenactor. Caudles were so much a part of daily life in the past that there was a special cup, usually two-handled and in silver, made for them.


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