A Zone 9 Toddy, Because I am Sick of Snow

When I was growing up in Detroit, prior to Postal Zip Codes, we had Postal Zones and I grew up in Zone 9.  Zone 9 for me, was where I grew up, and I grew up in an Armenian enclave.  Zone 9 was a term used by some that had become more upwardly mobile that had moved away either as a term of endearment or nostalgia for the old neighborhood, and some with a bit of derision, because they wished to forget their roots.  Be that as it may, I have been enjoying a Zone 9 Toddy for the last week or so, in the evening, because I am worn out from all of the snow that has hit the States and Canada.  As we would say in the old neighborhood “Global Warming, my arse” most sane people would realize that it is just good old weather beating up on us, as we have had a couple of very mild Winters lately.

 Seagrams VO Whisky

You may ask “what is a Zone 9 Toddy?” and most of you would have no idea.  Detroit was blessed with having one of the greatest soft drinks created here in the city, it is called Vernor’s Ginger Ale, and anyone that is any ex-patriot of the city, I would venture on occasion yearns for this soda, if it is not available where they reside.  Not only was Vernor’s a great ginger ale, the city of Detroit, named one of the original major East/West arteries Vernor Highway, and that was the main street in my old neighborhood, if fact most people just referred to it as the “Highway.”  The other two ingredients for this drink, is pure honey, and in our family it was always Seagram’s V.O. Whisky, and please note that it is the Canadian spelling of whisky.  My family started off in the New World in Canada, so hence we always had Canadian whisky in the house.  To make the toddy, one simply puts the Vernor’s in a pot and brings it to a boil, pours it into a large mug, adds the V.O., and then finally adds a very large tablespoon of honey into the mug and keeps stirring until the honey has melted into the drink.  I might add that it is a very comforting drink especially on those days and/or nights of multiple trips outside to shovel the driveway and the sidewalks clear of the snow.


Of course growing up in an ethnic background, two of the ingredients were always used as the cough medicine as well.  When the cold weather would strike, there would be a jar made of honey and whisky thoroughly mixed together, and when one had a tickle in the throat, you went to the jar, stirred the contents up and took a dose of the medicine.  Even as a kid, this was a much better tasting medicine that worked compared to the store bought medicines.  I have to laugh as I recall, as a child, my mother would give me some money and two hand written notes that I would take with me to one of the pharmacies in the neighborhood.  One of the notes requested a bottle of Chercacol-C cough medicine (the C was for codeine) and I would pay for the bottle with my cash, now that same medicine is a controlled substance, and the other note was for them to sell me a couple of packs of cigarettes for my Mother, and the best part of the trip was that I could keep the change for running the errand.  I also remember how I would be sent to the pharmacy on occasions to buy Coke syrup; this was in the days, when Coca Cola was dispensed at the obligatory fountain in the pharmacy.  The old dispensers used the syrup and soda water that would be mixed together at each order, the older folks claimed that the Coke syrup was perfect for upset stomachs.  I remember having it a couple of times, but I preferred my Coca Cola the standard way.  Oh well, that is what I have been enjoying these last evenings as I mutter about the snow, but then I think of one thing that I am happy about, when I was a kid, we did not have a “snow” shovel, we used a big clunky “coal” shovel, that was left over from the old days of coal furnaces, but the shovel was still good, so why should we buy another shovel.

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Twitter.com/WineRaconteur Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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6 Responses to A Zone 9 Toddy, Because I am Sick of Snow

  1. Funny, I remember a small bottle of ‘Coke’ Syrup in my parents’ medicine cabinet – but I had no idea what it was used for as it never moved. Thanks for letting me in on that bit of medicinal lure. We still use honey (with lemon) and a shot of whiskey for aliments in my extended family.

  2. foxress says:

    I love Vernors. I’ve never had it hot, but it sounds like its worth a try.

    • It is very popular here in the Winter, especially with some added enhancements. In the Summer, if it ever comes we add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a classic Detroit “Boston Cooler” (go figure out the name).
      – John

  3. Cricket Hall says:

    I almost always have Vernors around.. especially this time of yr. I remember @ the age of 5 be given Vernors by me mother for an tummy ache. has been a go to ever since. she did give it to us warmed-up before. and i most definitely agree.. Makes for an awesome hot toddy. I have recommend to ppl who have never tried it.. IKR unbelievable but there is a few..lol. they say it must be an acquired taste.. I don’t they have the same passion for it as most Detroitiers do. their loss. more for us to enjoy. Oh! I still use a clunky “coal” shovel. it holds up much better than the “regular” snow shovels they make now.. old habits are hard to break. 😉 Ty! for the story.. brings back a lot of memories.

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