Happy National Hot Toddy Day! As Victoria Moore says in How to Drink, the Hot Toddy (aka the Hot Totty, Hot Toddie or, in Scotland, Hot Whisky) can be summed up by these 3 characteristics: "the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb." A Hot Toddy is comprised of a brown spirit, water, honey, herbs, and spices, served hot (obviously).
Of course, as with most cocktails, there are variations. While whisky is the most common spirit used to make a Hot Toddy, some people prefer to use rum or brandy. In the Midwest, bourbon is the norm. There are also those who replace the honey with sugar and the hot water with hot tea. In Canada, it’s not uncommon for hot water or hot tea to be replaced with hot ginger ale. Cloves, cinnamon and star anise are spices that usually accompany the Hot Toddy.
Since we’re in the cold, wintery months at the moment, the Hot Toddy is a great winter warmer. Extra points awarded to those who warm the mug or other serving vessel before building this classic cocktail. Also, we can’t really discuss the Hot Toddy without tackling its claimed medicinal benefits. While you don’t have to believe it can truly cure the common cold, there is some science that backs up the claim: alcohol fights infections and microorganisms and helps people sleep, whiskey in particular does behave similarly to decongestants, and honey, lemon and steam do tend to battle cold symptoms rather effectively.
Luckily, you don’t have to have a cold to enjoy a Hot Toddy. Cheers!
To make the Classic Hot Toddy, use this recipe.
This variation from Midnight Cowboy in Austin, Texas, calls for Maker’s Mark and Amaro Abano.
The Chamomile Toddy from the Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C., is made with brandy.