Pretzellogic - that was a very common folk remedy. When kids are teething, their gums hurt and ache. The bourbon acted like an anesthetic, and it made their gums feel better.

I used to pick up my bawling babies and just rock with them. I'd end up deaf in one ear, but the rocking would sooth them enough so they'd go to sleep. Frozen teething rings helped too.

If all else fails, have their ears checked. Babies can get terrible earaches, and if they're running a slight fever, get them to the pediatrician ASAP. Earaches are exceptionally painful to little kids.