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Grandma’s Homemade Cough Syrup


A jar of honey, bottle of southern comfort, sliced lemon, and peppermint stick.

We are talking about liquor. Medicinal liquor. The stuff that generations of sick folks depended upon before the invention of dextromethorphan.

I decided, after waking up yet again with a fully congested head and ears along with an inflamed painful throat, that I’m not taking any more drugs for this stuff.

I’ve been on an anti-biotic for 7 weeks along with various cough suppressants, expectorants, and heavy doses of ibuprofen for rib pain. Obviously, nothing is working or else my body has built up resistance to them.

And the “nighttime” prescription narcotics keep me wide awake with itching skin and weird states of in-between sleep.

It’s time to handle this the all natural way. What did our ancestors do when a head cold/flu/sinus crap got ahold of them? They used what the Good Lord gave them. Honey, lemon, peppermint (for flavor) and whiskey.


Mason jar with homemade whiskey cough syrup on a white plate

I vividly remember a jar that sat on top of my grandmother’s refrigerator before it was either used up or it disappeared.

I remember seeing various members of my family take a spoon and dip out of it. . . some only once. Some certain family members needed a little more healing than one spoon could give.

But I remember the big peppermint stick and that is what I found myself holding in the checkout line at the grocery store. You can usually find these around the holidays. 


What do you need to make this?

Grandma’s cough medicine is 4 ingredients: peppermint, honey, lemon, and liquor/whiskey. I don’t think it really matters which liquor you use. My family always used a dark whiskey/ bourbon. The point is NOT to get so drunk you can’t stand. Why these 4 things?

  • Honey coats the throat, is anti-bacterial and builds the immune system. It can also be used for burns and keeps infection away.  Honey also draws pus out of wounds and sores.
  • Whiskey works as an anesthetic to the cough response so you can sleep. If you can’t sleep, your body can’t rejuvenate. Whiskey is also higher in antioxidants than red wine so it fights free radicals too.
  • Lemon provides Vitamin C and helps the liver cleanse the body. Lemon is one of the best foods for the liver because it cuts through mucous which often accompanies colds. It is also alkaline once it’s ingested which is especially good while fighting flu and coughs.
  • Peppermint flavors the syrup and stops coughing. Spices such as cayenne pepper, ginger and cinnamon can be added for flavor and extra healing. Just make sure they are thoroughly mixed.

mason jar with whiskey cough syrup

What is a “Big Peppermint Stick”?

The big peppermint sticks may not be as easy to find as years ago. I find them every year at walmart or the grocery store.

If you can’t find one around the holidays in the gift basket or specialty candy sections of the grocery store, just use regular peppermint sticks or the candies. The sugar and peppermint is for flavor only. 

When I saw the peppermint stick as soon as I walked in the store and had the revelation to ditch the meds, I also decided to fill my basket with flu-fighting foods. 

I loaded up with a whole chicken for soup with bone broth. Salmon for Omegas, spinach for fighting free radicals, asparagus to clean out the bladder/kidneys, and nuts for clean protein.

If I’m going all natural with the cough/congestion medicine, I’m sticking to real foods, too.






The Verdict: I slept great last night. I have a lot of congestion but I got some good sleep.

Bottle of Southern Comfort, a jar of honey, a halved lemon, and a peppermint stick.

Grandma's Homemade Cough Syrup

Yield: 20 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Using whiskey, honey, lemon, and peppermint, this homemade cough syrup is just what you need for sleepless coughing nights.


  • 1 peppermint stick, large
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bourbon or whiskey
  • 1.5 cups raw honey


  1. Melt 1/4 a peppermint stick in 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice (or juice of 1 lemon).
  2. Add a half of cup of Southern Comfort and 1.5 cups of raw honey to pot and reduce heat.
  3. Stir to combine. Put 1/4 of a peppermint stick in jar.
  4. Using a funnel, pour the mixture over 1/4 of peppermint stick (total of 1/2 of peppermint stick used.)
  5. Let it cool. Store in cool dry place.


Dosing: 1-2 Tablespoons every 3-4 hours as needed. No need to swig the jar.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 62Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 0g
Comfort foods without gluten
The Lost Christmas Eve-TSO


Sunday 23rd of February 2020

How long will this keep stored???


Sunday 23rd of February 2020

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Wednesday 5th of February 2020

This is Jeannette again, wanted to let you know this really works better than ovc cough meds.


Sunday 2nd of February 2020

Have been sick for week, coughing my head and taking over the counter meds, so I remembered a lady we used to know that made this, so I tried yours and added cinnamon, cause I had no peppermint. Just took my first dose. Feels good so far. Thanks

Brandi Box

Thursday 12th of December 2019

I've made this myself on many occasions, however, my family recipe calls for those cheap packs of atomic fireballs, you get 6-8 in a pack for 50 cents. 4 melt in the pot, and 2 for the jar. The cinnamon really masks the flavor of the whiskey, so any cheap whiskey will work.