Something To Chew On

December 4-10, 2017

By Becca Bona


That Arkansas Weather.


This phrase strikes me as a catchy band name, but there’s more. With the right emphasis on That, Arkansans know exactly what’s referenced – namely – the mercurial ether that defines Mother Nature’s ever-changing will.


Take this recent month of November. The leaves are changing right on schedule, but the temperature has done an intricate series of pirouettes, backflips, and dives from the upper ‘70s to the low ‘30s.


It’s enough to make anyone’s headache … which is where I started this column, with a headache. My sinuses have proven that they cannot keep up with That Arkansas Weather, and thus I’m left to contemplate relief.


I would say there is relief to be found in warm, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, but I think it’s actually elsewhere entirely – for instance – in your nightcap. Likely a more apt column title for this week would be “Something To Sip On.”


If, like me, you feel yourself fighting the onslaught of a cold or sore throat, there’s a simple remedy that you can whip up with items you likely already have on hand.


Cue the Hot Toddy aka Tottie, or even in Hindi, tārī,  – “beverage made from fermented palm sap.”


Dating back to British-controlled India, the warm drink known as a cure-all has a disputed origin. Not the masterminds behind the concoction, the British claimed it as theirs, anyway, and the drink’s popularity increased.


Accounts differ on whether it was served hot or cold until it reached Colonial America, when it was in fact served piping hot and with rum instead of whisky as the spirit base.


Yet another account describes a Scottish tradition of whisky, hot water, honey, and spices, which Doctor Robert Bentley Todd encouraged his patients to drink in the 1800s. Perhaps the drink was named after the good doctor, or as lore also claims, from the water that supposedly spurred the drink – Todd’s Well in Edinburgh.


During the Revolutionary War in America, the cocktail was described as “liquid courage,” and soldiers would take swig after swig until they were ready for battle.  


Today, a hot toddy is recognized as a drink consisting of a spirit base, water, some type of sugar, and spices. That leaves room for versatility, which is what Trio’s Bar Manager Merrick Fagan finds so fascinating about it.


“The beautiful thing about a hot toddy is that it can be as simple – or not – as you want,” he explains. Fagan gives a nod to the Colonial Americans and their likely rum-based version, as he says, “I’m fond of Plantation Original Dark, Smith & Cross (a lovely Jamaican rum), or Plantation OFTD (overproof) for a real doozy.”


When it comes time to add flavor, the possibilities are truly endless. “I usually add angostura bitters both for the flavor, and because they help calm an upset stomach,” he continues, “if someone has a stuffy nose, I’ll often add ginger to help clear that up.”


And for that last little spicy kick, get creative. Fagan suggests tea, as he says, “Use tea instead of water – as cinnamon and cloves are always a nice touch in a toddy, chai masala is a natural choice.”


Check out the basic recipe below and feel free to personalize it to your tastes. Happy sipping.


Basic Bourbon Hot Toddy

1 ounce bourbon

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon pure honey

1/4 cup hot water or brewed tea

Lemon slice



1) Put honey, and lemon juice in a warmed mug.

2) Add hot water or hot tea and stir until the honey has dissolved. Add the bourbon, stir, then finish with a lemon slice.


(Recipe adapted from


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  • Becca Bona
    Becca Bona