And yet, your suffering is real. Luckily, one thing can cut through your fug of catarrh. It is called the hot toddy, and unless you are Czech, there's a good chance you've been using the wrong liquor.
After years of experimentation, I've concluded that a clove-y, gingery, cinnamon-y liqueur called Becherovka is the best scaffolding for the hot toddy. Made in the Czech Republic according to a secret recipe, Becherovka is a minor entry in the catalog of European decoctions that includes stuff like Chartreuse, Campari, and the artichoke-derived oddity Cynar. Chilled and sipped by itself, Becherovka is a decent digestif, a drink category that's fallen out of fashion, and it's surprisingly good with tonic water. But even a bath of tonic can't dilute away Becherovka's spicy, medicinal sweetness.
In a hot toddy, spicy, medicinal sweetness is what you're after. You really shouldn't be drinking any booze at all when you've got a cold, as alcohol is a dehydrating agent that can worsen your symptoms. Combined
A final admonition: You must warm the mug first. Fill it with hot water, let it sit for thirty seconds or so, then throw the water out. Otherwise, you might find yourself gulping down tepid dregs at the bottom, which is a crummy finish to the only consolation you're likely to find for the next 7 to 10 days.
Yield: 1 serving
Time: 10 minutes
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
3 tablespoons Becherovka
2 teaspoons Fernet Branca
1. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Fill a mug with boiling water, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then discard the water.
2. Meanwhile, crush the nutmeg and cinnamon stick with a rolling pin or heavy skillet. Put the nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and 1 cup water in a small, heavy saucepan (preferably one with a pour spout) over medium heat. Simmer until the spices have lightly infused the water, about 5 minutes. Remove the spices with a slotted spoon and discard.
3. Add the honey and the lemon juice to the infused water. Stir until the honey is completely dissolved. Add the Becherovka and Fernet Branca, heat just until the mixture begins to steam, then pour into the pre-warmed mug. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more honey, lemon juice, or water. Serve hot.