Growing up, Rock & Rye—whiskey, that is—was housed underneath our kitchen sink. The slick glass bottle was brought out for medicinal purposes, and the spicy liquid was mixed with honey if anyone in our house had a cough. This is probably the primary reason I never indulged in underage alcohol. If drinking tastes this bad I don’t want any part.

So when my five-year old developed a cough one night I had no problem prescribing my dad’s concoction to clear out my son’s congestion. In my defense, we were out of cough syrup and it was bedtime. We live 30 minutes from the nearest pharmacy. Too much trouble.

“Just mix him up some Wild Turkey with honey,” I told my husband. Cocked head and squinted eyes told me even he was a bit skeptical—especially since I’m the cautious parent and here I was, a Christian author trying to tell her southern Baptist deacon husband to medicate our child with alcohol. A bit paradoxical at best.

“My parents gave it to me. It will be fine,” I coaxed. “Plus, it will taste so bad he will stop coughing just so he doesn’t ever have to have it again. The Bible says not to get drunk as it leads to debauchery, but is quiet on the subject of a hot toddy for medicinal purposes. Mix it up, bartender.”  

So, my husband fetched the Wild Turkey, mixed it with honey, and gave our kindergartener a small shot of the homemade remedy.

A few minutes later, we all walked down the hall toward bed. That’s when my son looked up at me, all pitiful like, and said, “Mom. I think that really helped. Can you put some Wild Turkey in my lunch box tomorrow?”    

Let that sink in.

I’m not even sure how I responded, but probably along the lines of a Capri Sun might be more appropriate.

That evening, I texted a strange message to my child’s teacher, “Hey, we gave Tite some Wild Turkey for his cough tonight. He’s asking for it by name now. Just FYI in case he mentions it tomorrow.” Thankfully she’s a close friend.

She responded, “What’s Wild Turkey?”  

Obviously her parents were medicating her with Dimetapp as a child and not whiskey or bourbon.

“It’s liquor mixed with honey,” I texted back. “It’s supposed to help the throat when sick.”  

So, off he goes to school the next day.

Midway through the day the teacher shoots me a text, “Ummm, he just asked me—in front of the entire class after his coughing fit, if he could have some Wild Turkey.” A few emojis accompanied the message.

Sweet Jesus, don’t call DCS were my thoughts.

And so, that is how we discovered my five-year old has a taste for Bourbon. It’s not going to be the anti-drinking & anti-cough remedy that it was for me. We now keep Dimetapp and Robitussin on hand at all times. Liquor will be locked up.

I blame my husband. I think he spiked the liquor with too much honey. Therefore the five-year old didn’t get the full-on burning effect of the Wild Turkey which would have prevented any future requests for the drink.

A few weeks ago, my father (the irony I know!) shared an image on FB of an old prescription from a pediatrician in 1962.  It reads: whiskey-1 tsp; lemon juice-1 tsp, honey-1tbsp. 1 tsp every hour as needed for cough.

I do feel justified; turns out I’m just an old-school parent.

Sarah Philpott

Sarah Philpott Ph.D lives in the south east on a sprawling cattle farm where she raises her two mischievous children (with one on the way!) and is farm wife to her high school sweetheart. A former teacher, she now spends this season of her life cleaning peanut butter & jelly off the counter, dreaming of traveling the world, hosting “get-togethers” for her family & friends, and chasing her kids around the farm. Sarah is represented by The Blythe Daniel Literary Agency. You can visit with Sarah at her blog where she writes about cultivating a life of down-home simplicity. She also has a passion for helping women cope with pregnancy loss.