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Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

Hot Toddys are cold fighting powerhouses!  This soothing outdoor elixir is a natural cold remedy invented to compliment your expedition.  Check out our twist on the toddy featuring vitamin C filled foraged pine needles.

What is a hot toddy

The toddy is a hot cocktail made with spirit, water, citrus, honey and spices.  This drink is especially popular whenever the weather turns cold and can be found on the menu at many bars and restaurants.  Our version of a Hot Toddy (recipe below) can be made on a simple backcountry stove and features foraged ingredients.

Hot toddy: cold remedy

Whiskey is a great decongestant; the alcohol dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection.  Whiskey and warm steam emanating from the toddy is a perfect concoction for helping to clear up your cold symptoms. And by the time you finish the drink, you won’t only be breathing a bit easier, but the alcohol will make you just groggy enough so you can get some much needed shuteye.


How to make healthy tea with pine needles

Pine needle tea

Did you know that pine needles contain more vitamin C than a glass of orange juice?  Pine needles are a year round source of vitamins and antioxidants that become a healing elixir when made into a tea. Native Americans have been brewing pine needle tea for centuries, and even introduced European settlers suffering of scurvy – which is caused by a vitamin C deficiency – to pine needle tea.

Health benefits

Pine needle tea was often used by indigenous cultures for its expectorant and decongestant qualities. It can force mucus and phlegm to be expelled, which helps to clear out your sinuses and relieve pressure and sinus headaches.  Combined with the decongestant reputation whiskey has, pine needle tea is an easy to make backcountry cold combatant!

Looking for more spirited beverages? Try this Sour Patch Sour cocktail recipe. 

How to identify safe trees to harvest

Pine Needle Tea is easy to make, but be careful when harvesting pine as some species contain harmful toxins that are poisonous. Listed below are pine and pine lookalike (conifer) trees to AVOID, and information about how to identify these species.

One of the first steps in identifying pine trees is counting the number of needles per bundle. Then, notice the average length of the needles. Only select mature, healthy pines.  Avoid damaging the tree by gently plucking a few strands of needles from several different trees.

This is a list of some common pine (and pine look-a-like) trees to AVOID when foraging and how to identify each species:

  • Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) – THREE needles per bundle: Western half of U.S., needles 5 to 10 inches long, usually 3 needles per bundle, but sometimes 2 or 4
  • Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) – TWO needles per bundle: Northwestern U.S., needles 1-1/2 to 3 inches long
  • Common Yew (Taxus baccata) – mostly between three-quarters and one-inch long, dark green above and lighter green below without white stripes running the length of the lower surface of each needle.
  • Monterey Cypress (Cypressus macrocarpa) – many variations, Read this
  • Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) – needles are typically short and mostly soft with blunt tips. The cones are cylindrical and upright and the shape of a fir is very narrow with rigid, upright or horizontal branching as opposed to “drooping” branches on some spruce trees.

How to make a Pine Hot Toddy

Pine is an abundant year round resource that can easy be made into a tea.  After identifying which trees are safe to harvest, follow this recipe to make our Pine Hot Toddys a soothing part of your next adventure:


Pine Hot Toddy
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

Make this backcountry cold fighting cocktail with harvested pine needles.

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Propane Stove
Servings: 2 beverages
  • 1/2 cup Young Pine Needles
  • 4 oz Fresh Water
  • 4 oz Bourbon
  • 1 packet Honey
  • Lemon Garnish
  1. Harvest safe needles by picking young bunches of pine needles. Remove brown ends or sheaths of the needles. Cut needles into 1/4 inch pieces.

  2. Bring water to a boil. When water bubbles, turn stove to low.  Add bourbon and honey. Stir until honey dissolves. Turn off stove.

  3. Add pine needles. Place lid on pot and let needles seep for 10 minutes. Strain and serve in cups/mugs.

  4. Garnish with a lemon wedge or dehydrated lemon slice or pinch citric acid (depending on adventure limitations).

Recipe Notes

Don't carry a bottle of bourbon or whiskey in the backcountry. Transfer booze into a lightweight, tight sealing flask.

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