This Bourbon Cough Syrup Recipe Will Help Soothe a Sore Throat

Sore Throat: When To See GP

Very often there is no need to see a doctor when a sore throat is present unless other symptoms are present or sore throat last a long time (see list below for more details).

  • Symptoms lasting more than seven days with no signs of improvement
  • Severe symptoms (pain)
  • Symptoms getting worse quickly
  • Difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • Patient taking a drug which can lead to agranulocytosis (sudden lowering of white blood cells), for example, carbimazole, methotrexate.
  • Recent episodes of throat infection (for instance tonsillitis)

Use Of Antibiotics For Sore Throat

Very often, episodes of sore throats are caused by viral infections.

Sore throats caused by viral infection are self-limiting and do not require antibiotic treatment. Symptoms usually last around seven days.

Patients who decide to see their GP about a sore throat are usually assessed according to specific criteria, for example, FeverPAIN, which looks at different symptoms present. Fever PAIN standards for antibiotic use in sore throat episodes look at the following:

  • Presence of fever in the last 24 hours
  • Presence of pus on tonsils
  • Rapid attendance (within three days of symptoms appearance)
  • The severity of inflamed tonsil
  • No cough or inflammation of the nose

A high score indicates more severe symptoms, with bacterial infection more likely causing the sore throat. A decision on antibiotic need is supported with results taken from the FeverPAIN assessment.

Very often, GP may recommend issuing a ”stand by” prescriptions, with recommended use, only if symptoms do not resolve 3-5 days or get worse suddenly.

Unnecessary use of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance – reduced effectiveness of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections.

How To Treat A Sore Throat

The main recommendations in terms of management of sore throats are the use of self—care measures such as:

  • Rest
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Gargling with salty water or dissolvable aspirin
  • Use of paracetamol or ibuprofen (painkillers)
  • Use of lozenges/throat sweets
  • Use of throat sprays containing a local anaesthetic

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends the use of simple analgesics such as paracetamol or ibuprofen as firs-line treatment of pain caused by a sore throat. Patients may choose to use other products such as lozenges, although NICE describes the benefit of therapy as ”small” (NICE, 2018).

Quick FAQ

Can I take lozenges daily? There is no set number of cough drops that can be consumed. This is due to the fact that the amount of menthol and other compounds in different brands differs.


4. Cumin And Cognac

Having a sore throat is the worst indeed. It is okay to pop a Halls, but do they really help? It looks like they are just masking the symptoms. Try Cumin and Cognac and you can soothe your sore throat in less than 4 hours. You need to prepare it right and take one spoon on every half an hour.

Brent Hofacker/

Brent Hofacker/

FAQs about sore throat

How do you know if you have Strep Throat?

Strep throat can be tested using a throat swab. Strep throat or streptococcal pharyngitis is often accompanied by red eyes, a persistent cough, fever, inflamed mucous membranes in the nose, and nausea. You may also find white pus along the tonsils on either side of the throat.

What causes scratchy throat?

A "scratchy throat" is caused by inflammation of the throat. Specifically, the tonsils within the throat. The tonsils are masses of lymphoid tissue (similar to lymph nodes) for white blood cells (immune cells) in the body. When you become ill, your immune system is activated. The lymph nodes of the immune system swell as white blood cells from all over the body converge to fight a local infection. In the case of a scratchy throat, an upper respiratory tract infection is present and may cause pain or tightness because of the swelling of tonsils and surrounding tissue.

What does a sore throat look like?

A sore throat may look different depending on the cause, but most commonly, it is accompanied by an angry, red throat and tonsils on either side of the throat as well as swelling on either side or both sides. There are multiple patterns of appearance associated with a sore throat. For example, some illnesses cause a white, chunk pus-like material along either side of the throat, others cause "cobblestoning" or a series of red bumps along the back of the throat like brick cobblestones. There is no single appearance of a sore throat.

What causes pus pockets in the throat?

Pus is caused by your body fighting an infection, and when you have a sore throat caused by an infection, pus pockets can collect in the throat. Pus pockets on either side of the throat can be a sign of tonsillitis, an infection of the tonsils. They are present particularly in infections of streptococcal bacteria, and are a sign of bacterial infection, as opposed to viral infections like the flu and the common cold.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is a swelling of the tonsils usually caused by a bacterial infectione. It can involve a buildup of pus on one or both tonsils on either side of the throat. The tonsils are essentially branching "police stations" in the body in which white blood cells or "cops" of the body congregate. They may become swollen during an infection and may even become infected themselves. When they become infected with a bacteria, this is called tonsillitis. Pus is often present because pus is a collection of dead white blood cells and dead bacterial pathogens.

Common causes 

Some common causes of a sore throat are allergies, flu, pharyngitis, stomatitis, excessive smoking, reflux, or tonsillitis. However, in some cases, it may also be a sign of laryngeal or throat cancer. Other common causes are:

  • Constant or persistent sore throat which lasts for more than 4 days is usually caused by an infection, such as tonsillitis. This should be assessed by a general practitioner to start a course of antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or penicillin.
  • Sore throat with an ear ache can indicate the presence of an inflammation of the middle ear. You should see your doctor to evaluate its cause, as anti-inflammatory drugs, such as diclofenac, may be necessary.
  • Throat pain when speaking may be related to pharyngitis or laryngitis and should be checked out by a doctor for appropriate treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs. Learn more about how strep throat, a type of pharyngitis, is treated.
  • Frequent throat pain is a sign of a weakened immune system and so you should see a general practitioner and eat more foods with vitamin C, such as oranges or kiwis, which help increase the body’s defenses.


Throat anatomy Throat anatomy The throat includes the esophagus, windpipe (trachea), voice box (larynx), tonsils and epiglottis.

Symptoms of a sore throat can vary depending on the cause. Signs and symptoms might include:

  • Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat
  • Pain that worsens with swallowing or talking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore, swollen glands in your neck or jaw
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • White patches or pus on your tonsils
  • A hoarse or muffled voice

Infections causing a sore throat might result in other signs and symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

When to see a doctor

Take your child to a doctor if your child’s sore throat doesn’t go away with the first drink in the morning, recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Get immediate care if your child has severe signs and symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual drooling, which might indicate an inability to swallow

If you’re an adult, see your doctor if you have a sore throat and any of the following associated problems, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery:

  • A sore throat that is severe or lasts longer than a week
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Earache
  • Rash
  • Fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • Frequently recurring sore throats
  • A lump in your neck
  • Hoarseness lasting more than two weeks
  • Swelling in your neck or face
Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic


The best way to prevent sore throats is to avoid the germs that cause them and practice good hygiene. Follow these tips and teach your child to do the same:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid touching your face. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinking glasses or utensils.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away, and then wash your hands. When necessary, sneeze into your elbow.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as an alternative to washing hands when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Avoid touching public phones or drinking fountains with your mouth.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect phones, doorknobs, light switches, remotes and computer keyboards. When you travel, clean phones, light switches and remotes in your hotel room.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have symptoms.

How to Make Bourbon Cough Syrup

All you’ll need for this recipe is 2 ounces bourbon, the lemon juice from half of a lemon, 2 to 4 ounces water and 1 tablespoon honey. You could even use raw honey because it is a good source of antioxidants. Heat everything together in a little saucepan on the stovetop, just until you can see the steam rising off the liquid. Enjoy this concoction as a nightcap on colder evenings, and sip it when you’re sick for a good night’s rest. We enjoy this remix on a hot toddy when we’re perfectly healthy, too.

If you are sick, the bourbon will help you go to sleep. Honey does soothe a raw throat, as will warm liquid. There’s also evidence that honey is a cough suppressant.  Lemons can pretty much cure anything, it seems with that powerful vitamin C. If you want a little more healing power, consider brewing some ginger tea to add in place of the water since ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. This cold remedy is easily made with the simplest ingredients you always have on hand, even when a hacking cold or illness has you feeling low.

Feeling a little sinful? Pair this with our Brown Butter Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies. Trust us; it’s worth every sugary calorie.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

2. Bourbon Cough Syrup

For Bourbon Cough Syrup, one of the best alcoholic drinks for sore throat, cough and cold, you will need bourbon whiskey, lemon, water, and honey. It can be prepared easily in less than 2 minutes. But remember, if you are sick don’t drink it too hot, normal warm temperature will be good. Of course, never drive to drive after consuming these even small doses of alcohol as you will already be impacted and drowsy from your illness.

Keith Homan/

Keith Homan/

Home remedies 

Home remedies can be used to complement prescribed treatment to relieve symptoms like pain and discomfort. 

Some options include: 

  • Gargle a mixture of 1 cup of warm water with the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of salt. You can gargle for 2 minutes, twice a day. 
  • Gargle a mixture of 6 g pomegranate peels boiled in 150 ml (5 oz) of water.  
  • Drink 1 cup of cherry or orange juice daily, as these contain high levels of vitamin C.
  • Apply a honey and propolis spray to the throat 3 to 4 times per day. These sprays can be purchased at the pharmacy. 
  • Swallow 1 tablespoon of honey with 5 drops of propolis every day.

If the sore throat doesn’t resolve within 3 days, if you have a fever or if the symptoms worsen, it is important you go to the doctor to be checked out. Check out other natural ways to treat a sore throat

When you are constantly getting sore throats and pus in your throat, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove your tonsils.

Reader Success Stories

  • Lily Terr

Mar 8, 2017

    Lily Terr Mar 8, 2017

    “I got a bad stuffy nose at work yesterday, so today I had a hot toddy at lunch time and rested a little before going back to work. It was time to quit and I felt lots better. Thank you for the advice.” …” more

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