I’m not sure what it’s like in your house right now but I have sniffly noses and coughs and a generally need to get tucked back into bed. There is a perpetual running to the drug store, trying to find the appropriate medicine. When really I know the thing that will get me sleep, enter the Hot Toddy.
A million years ago, in what has become family legend, my sister lay on the couch for days with what was likely bronchitis and I cured her with a Hot Toddy. My sisters and I were always getting sick with chest colds, don’t ask me why. It would ruin our sleep most of all, as we sat up and hacked the night through. So there Crista lay, half-dead on the couch, exhausted from coughing and lack of sleep and I wanted to help.
Not weeks before I’d been to Chez Piggy (have I mentioned that I grew up in Kingston…). Now this was the younger version of me, unsure of what to ‘drink’ and I was into the ‘specialty coffee’ phase of my drinking life. The menu at the Pig has lots of warm drinks to choose from but I had decided to order the Toddy. At the time, it was a Hot Buttered Rum Toddy, today they serve a Brandy toddy. I completely fell for it. It wasn’t overly sweet, it was dark, spicy and totally new. I loved the pure Victorian charm of the Toddy, especially the hot buttered rum version placed steaming in my hands. It was instantly put into my repertoire.
Back to Crista (still half dead on the couch)… and my effort to ‘help’ her. Armed with my new found enthusiasm for the Toddy, I remembered something about it having healing properties and let me tell you I learned that it can be a balm when applied judiciously. I decided to call down to Chez Piggy and I nervously asked for the bartender,
“Hello, I was wondering if you could give me the recipe for that… um, Toddy drink?” I honestly thought that this whole transaction was illegal in some way, either for a person to be discussing alcohol on the phone or that their recipe was some deep, dark secret that in no way could be shared with the world outside that bar.
The response, “oh yeah, of course…. do you have a pen? write it down…”
So with recipe in hand, I rifled through my parents meagre booze supply ( I swear they had a bottle of Peach Schnapps for 15 years) and found some Irish whiskey … it was not rum… but my intuition kicked in that it might be a fair substitute and off I went. It will be just as good I thought to myself.
And it was, in fact after two that my sister was feeling so very much better that she promptly fell asleep (read passed out) on the couch. But when she woke up she was on the mend and neither of us has looked back – the toddy is our cure all.
Here’s the thing, at the time, Crista might have been 12. Needless to say, my parents were mortified and yet they still ask me to make for them.
Toddy’s hit you on all kinds of levels. The smell is perfect on a cold evening, all citrusy and spicy with the lemons, limes, cloves and cinnamon. But I also love the heat in my hands. And this is where mugs come into play. I saw this mug and thought, Toddy perfection. It’s bright red colour called out for use.
Did you know that ‘pillar box red’ is a colour? Because I didn’t… I didn’t even know what a pillar box was. This is in large part because I’m Canadian, not English or Scottish or Welsh… we don’t have pillar boxes here. They just aren’t part of my inherent cultural knowledge. So when I started looking at things I’d like to order from Falcon Enamelware (the larger’s why’s of which I will get to in another story… ) I latched on to this mug for all the reasons mentioned above and not for the reasons my friends overseas might. So after a wee bit of research, I sent out a request for a picture of the real thing. Guess what, it’s a post office box.
Regardless, I love a thing that has instant context in your mind. Now while I think toddy’s, below is what Brits think. I say, a touchstone is a touchstone. And either way the mug a lovely piece of enamelware. It will warm your hands on a chilly night and with a little toddy-joy, it will help heal you of the coughs and sniffles.