I spent this weekend teaching bar staff in various Korean cities how to make a hot toddy.
I have been struck down in the pribe of libe, by a nasty cold/flu-like virus that is working its way through my group of friends and knocking us down one by one. There was nothing I felt less like doing than going to Busan for the fireworks festival on Saturday, but as it was also a friend’s birthday party, I couldn’t really give it a miss. A nap on the train did not improve matters at all, and walking though the suddenly (and unusally, for this time of year) rainy and windy streets probably made things even worse.
Do you know what a hot toddy is? I asked hopefully of the barmaid when we settled in at a seafront place to watch the fireworks. She did not. Would you mind trying to make me one if I tell you what to put in it? I asked. She seemed uncertain. I’m very sick, I told her pathetically. She looked a little nervous, but nodded bravely and ended up serving me a soothing, warming, lemony, sugary whisky concoction that took my illness away. Well, the third or fourth one did, at least.
Sadly, the effects of the hot toddy are only temporary, and after having half-slept, half-coughed all the way back to Daejeon yesterday afternoon, I was mumbling things about wanting to be left alone to die (I can be a tad melodramatic). But I had to go to The Local to watch the world cup final, obviously, so death had to be postponed for a few hours. I think it may be the first time in my life that I have half-crawled into a pub, taken off my shoes in silence, and curled up on a sofa with my coat pulled over me like a blanket. Whimpering.
Will I go and ask Pete if he’ll make you a hot toddy? asked Irish Friend One in some concern.
The bar owner was not – as it turned out – overly familiar with the hot toddy manufacturing process, but he cheerfully obliged, emerging from the kitchen with a look of great concentration at one point to ask a truly wonderful question: “So, um, should I just fill it up with whisky, then, and add a little hot water? Or half whisky, half water, maybe?” Irish Friend One was starting to look a little alarmed.
Pete brought me my steaming drink from the kitchen and hovered around to see if it was OK. One sip nearly blew my head off, but as my head was mostly full of unpleasant gunk by that stage, it wasn’t actually a bad thing. By the time I’d finished my first glass, I was cheering and yelling at French rugby players without a single cough or sneeze. By the time I’d had two, the rugby was over (dommage! ) and I was involved in a singsong with random strangers who’d gathered around our table. By the time I’d had three, I was whirling around the dance floor with said strangers, in a very noisy but hearty rendition of Don’t Stop Me Now. Just your average rainy Sunday night fighting off the flu.
Pete, always in tune with the mood of his patrons, crossed the dance floor to switch on the disco lights following this unexpected turn of events, and looked incredulously at me as I was twirled in front of him by a large bearded man. You look realllllly sick, Hayley! he remarked cynically. I actually think he suspected me of having faked illness just so he’d make me a drink that wasn’t on the menu and involved him having to leave the bar and go into the kitchen.
If only. Sniffle.
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