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Anyone else use alcohol as cough syrup?

So it's three am and I can't stop coughing. My lousy cold that was just a pest earlier has progressed to seismic fits of coughing. No cough syrup in the house so in desperation I pour a small glass of kalhua. Works like a charm, and I keep the bottle on my bedstand just in case. Only problem is I'm so clogged up I can't even taste the kalhua goodness. Obviously I'm not pouring myself a dose before I leave for work but anyone else do this? Or is it a waste of good kalhua? A couple of years ago I had a similar problem and slowly disposed of a crappy bottle of rum that someone had given me. Not being able to taste properly has it's benefits!

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  1. When I was sick as a little kid my grandmother would make up a concoction of honey, lemon and bourbon and I'd eat spoonfuls of it (call DYFS!).

    1. Yup. Works great. I keep a glass of brandy by the bed instead of Kahlua, but the principle is the same. My roommate turned me on to honey, lemon, brandy and hot water (classic hot toddy recipe), and even my doctor approved it: alcohol is a cough suppressant, and the various other ingredients help break up the congestion and sooth the throat. So much better than cough syrup!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I love a brandy hot toddy for a cold or flu. It is the best remedy out there.

        My mom used to keep a pint of Yukon Jack in her medicine cabinet.

      2. My father, a retired medical expert and administrator, swears by Fernet Branca, Branca Menta, or a combination of the two. he makes up his mixture and actually keeps it in a cough syrup bottle with a Branca label on it, by his bedside.

        My mother, a nurse, always made me tall, tea hot toddy's as a kid when I had a cough. Hot water, a tea bag, honey, lemon, and whiskey. It would loosen up my chest and put me to sleep. i still like them now and then.

        1. A lot of men of a previous generation took a dram of scotch as a remedy for a sore throat. I have tried it (no ice) and, if taken at the first sign of an oncoming cold, it seems to help with the sore throat I always get before the respiratory symptoms come on. Seems to do the trick for me...

          1. I use scotch for a sore throat. I'll drink 1-2 glasses at night if my throat is really sore, then the next morning I'm usually fine.

            1. i love a hot toddy. kahlua - no way! i mean i can see it working, but it does not appeal. i do jamesons, hot water, honey, lemon juice. feels good, tastes good, helps with sinus and cough.

              1. I used to use a shot of Kirschwasser to clear up nasal congestion. Boy did it work, you'd breath fire out your nostrils.

                1. When I was a child my Mother would give me blackberry brandy for a cold right before bedtime.

                  1. My mother always gave us whiskey and I remember it working.

                    1. Most cough syrups contain alcohol so why not do what you like. We had brandy in the house, mom would rub it on our gums when teething and it was a flavored brandy that she would give us for a sore throat. I can't think of another reason not to use your favorite....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jspear

                        My thing is cognac for a sore throat. My grandma always kept a bottle of Old Crow in the cupboard for medicinal purposes.

                        Whatever makes you feel better is worth doing when you're sick.

                      2. As a kid, my Italian mother gave me sambuca in place of nyquil. worked wonders.

                          1. I make a "Thera-Toddy". I heat up twice the amount of water called for, and add a some Brandy and Lemon to a night time TheraFlu... I sleep like a champ and don't wake up with a medicine hangover!

                            1. Grandma Hope would make a New England hot toddy for colds and flu. Dark rum, lots of honey and lemon, a stick of cinnamon and then--sleepytime! I've yet to find a better remedy.

                              1. Friends many years ago suggested port + brandy - sounds crazy but it warms and calms you head to toe.

                                1. Gargling with straight bourbon works best for my worst coughs and sore throats. I find old rip van winkle works best...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                    I hope you're swallowing that after you're done gargling! If you're going to spit it out, it's a shame to use such a great bourbon.

                                    1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                      But of course! I should also mention that I use it as a preventative measure as well!

                                  2. I think any alcohol slightly warmed up does the trick. I like the 21 year old Black Maple Hill warmed up. My cough goes away for a minute, then I drink more, then it goes away, then I drink more...

                                    1. Classic tongue-in-cheek advice from medical-student training about alcohol effects, especially the old English part:

                                      [Because alcohol can induce drowsiness and reduce fever, alcoholic beverages have long been a self-applied therapy for "head colds."] Perhaps the greatest therapeutic advantage of such therapy is to make the patient drowsy and sleepy so that he stays in bed, whereas otherwise he would be ambulant to the detriment of at least his associates. Hamburger (1936) humorously advised the following therapy, culled from an old English book, to be instituted at the first inkling of a cold, namely, to hang one’s hat on the bedpost, drink from a bottle of good whisky until two hats appear, and then get into bed and stay there.

                                      1. Probably more useful, but less colorful, is something earlier part of mainstream medicine and now making some comeback as possibly more effective than commercial products, for sore throats especially. Making a cup of tea 2-3 times daily from sage leaves or ground sage, letting it cool to comfortable temperature, and gargling with it, stimulates natural mechanisms that fight the disease. This was advice of an experienced MD, and I've gotten benefit from it.