Given that my first two posts involve alcohol, I just might be establishing myself as the Bay Area Bites Lush. No matter, I think my parents already believe that.

Anyway, as many of you are probably already aware along with all its other good qualities, alcohol has medicinal benefits. My two favorite prescriptions are the classic Hot Toddy and the sophisticated Gin and Tonic.

Whenever I feel a twitchy sniffle coming on, I make bleary eyes at my husband who bustles out to the kitchen to whip up one of his restorative Hot Toddies. I don’t know if it’s the vitamin C punch the lemon juice packs, or the antiseptic qualities of the Wild Turkey bourbon, or the moisturizing effect of the honey on a sore throat, but whatever it is, after one or two of those, I wake up the next morning with nary a trace of my previous ills. I’m not exactly sure why we get Wild Turkey bourbon but it seems to be my husband’s preference. Feel free to make your own choice.

Dr. Mathra’s Totally Hot Toddy Recipe:

1/2 cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 jigger (1 1/2 oz) bourbon of choice

Boiling water

1 tablespoon honey, preferably local

Crush the cinnamon stick and cloves slightly. A mortar and pestle works well for this as does the bottom of a heavy pan. Put the spices in a heatproof glass or mug and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the bourbon and pour in the boiling water to fill the glass. Stir in the honey and serve very hot.

This might be a slightly less well-known cure, but for the women out there who suffer from the periodic effects of, well, cramps, I can recommend a quick Gin and Tonic. For years certain holistic circles have used juniper berry and juniper extract as a muscle relaxant, and what better way to ingest juniper than in a nice cool glass of gin and tonic? Manages to make me less irritable as well — funny how that works.

Stephanie’s Cramps-Be-Gone Gin and Tonic Recipe:

Ice cubes

Juice from 1/4 of a lemon

1 jigger (1 1/2 oz) gin of choice

Tonic water

You know, I usually just eyeball this — pour in one or two fingers of gin (Bombay Sapphire is preferred, but Tanqueray is also nicely smooth), add a squirt of lemon and the tonic, but the other night, I realized that there’s actually a very specific ritual to my Gin and Tonics.

I start by dropping in no more than two cubes of ice (any more could dilute the drink and we don’t want that, do we?), and then I squeeze the lemon, drizzling the juice over the ice cubes. Next, I drop the spent lemon in the glass and slosh in the measured gin. Fill up the remaining space with tonic water* and serve.

It’s not snake oil if it works, right?

*I have decided opinions about many things, especially when it comes to putting stuff in mouth and I definitely have a decided opinion of tonic water. I find Canada Dry far too sweet for a good, bracing Gin and Tonic. Good ol’ Schwepps is really the way to go, especially since the Brits are the inventors of the Gin and Tonic as a way to pickle themselves with quinine to fight off malaria in India. But that’s another post entirely. Whatever you do, stay away from diet tonic! Shudder.

Drunkard, Heal Thyself 27 January,2005Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Anonymous

    came upon this through a random google search, looking for a drink that would help my ills when I go out tonight. Will try the gin and tonic remedy!

  • Amy

    Bombay Sapphire is crap. Try Plymouth instead.

  • Yes, well, I will respectfully disagree with you there, Amy.

    I’m not a fan of Plymouth. It’s too sweet for me to use in anything aside from a Greyhound. I still like Bombay Sapphire a good deal, however as three years have gone by since this post and gin has put out way more options in that, I have also discovered an abiding love for Hendricks, 209, and Sarticious.

  • MMM just chanced upon your blog entry, very nice recipe for Gin and Tonic – it really does relax you and get rid of those aches. Not quite sure about the mosquitoes, just makes me notice them less. It was then that I noted your use of Juniper berries – these make a good flavouring of meats like venison and guinea fowl. Interestingly they are a diuretic and even more interesting that they were once used for birth control…


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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