Tis the season for sneezes and sore throats, but fight off the wintertime aches and pains with some age-old remedies that will also warm up a cold winter night.

Just look in the back of your mother’s grease-covered cookbook. Search for the illegibly handwritten notes that look like a list of ingredients for a magic potion. You may just find one of these natural elixirs that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Most of the ingredients needed for these recipes may be found in your pantry … or liquor cabinet. The rest are available at Parrott’s General Store, Food Lion, Middle Grounds Coffee Shop, Mother Earth and Social House Vodka, and Amazon.com.

One preventive ingredient to have on hand every fall and winter is Elderberry syrup. You can take it as a shot or add it to your favorite tea. Store it in a Mason jar in the refrigerator for up to two months or freeze it in ice cube trays to thaw and use as needed for up to six months.

My mother swears by her Hot Toddy and it has cured many sore throats in our house. It is delicious and effective. Mother Earth’s whiskey gives it the kick needed to get rid of any cough or sore throat. And you can always make a virgin version for the kids.

Lemon and honey in hot water is well known for soothing a sore throat, but how about adding a little vodka. This Hot Vodka cocktail doubles as a tasty winter time treat.

You may notice several ingredients repeated in these recipes. Lemon, honey, cinnamon and ginger are known to fight sickness. Another secret ingredient is apple cider vinegar. Try a Debloating Tea Recipe with apple cider vinegar to relieve tummy troubles.

So when you start to feel a little under the weather, mix up one of these hot time-tested remedies, get cozy on the couch and flip on "White Christmas" while you sip.


Elderberry Syrup


2/3 cup dried elderberries

3 cups water

2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, grated

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon whole cloves

½ lemon (juiced)

1 cup honey


Combine elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer (do not let it boil). Let simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove from heat. Mash berries as much as possible. Strain the juice from the solid ingredients using a coffee filter or cheese cloth. Squeeze berries to get as much liquid out as possible. Discard solid ingredients.

Let juice sit uncovered to cool, and when juice reaches room temperature, add lemon and honey. Stir the mixture until the honey is dissolved.

Daily Immune Boost Use: take 1 teaspoon or add to tea daily (1/2 teaspoon for children)

To fight sickness, take up to 1 teaspoon per hour (1/2 teaspoon small children)


Hot Toddy


¾ cup water

¼ lemon (juiced)

1 tablespoon honey (or more)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 shots of whiskey (omit this ingredient for a kid-friendly version)


Heat 3/4 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and whiskey.

Use: Drink it as hot as can be tolerated.


Hot Vodka

1/2 cup honey

2 cups water

1 lemon, zested and sliced

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon (or to taste)

1 shot vodka (or to taste)


Mix honey, water, lemon zest and slices, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 45 minutes. Add vodka while hot and sip away!



Debloating Tea


8 oz water

1 bag green tea

1 inch piece of freshly chopped ginger

½ T apple cider vinegar

½ lemon (juiced)



Boil water, drop in tea bag and ginger. Steep tea for about 3 minutes and remove tea bag. Steep ginger for about 7-10 minutes total (according to strength desired) and remove with spoon or strainer. Add apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Stir in honey according to taste.