Nothing warms you up like a hot toddy when the weather turns cold! The mix of whiskey, honey, and lemon truly soothes the soul.
Whether you’re fighting off a cold or want a cozy nightcap, this tasty drink is such a comfort.
It’s the quintessential hot cocktail. It’s a total classic that people have loved for ages.
Its rich, warm flavor, and soothing properties make it easy to love.
Get ready to feel all warm and fuzzy with this easy hot toddy recipe!
What Is a Hot Toddy?
The hot toddy is a classic “hot” cocktail, one of the first-ever. It typically consists of whiskey, hot water, sugar, lemon, and spices.
Its sole purpose is to warm someone up. Credit for creating it goes to Jacques Bezuidenhout, a bartender from San Francisco.
People usually serve hot toddies in the colder months or as a remedy for the common cold. (Hence, the medicinal ingredients: liquor, lemon, honey, hot water.)
It’s a hot drink that’ll soothe the throat, warm the tummy, and numb pain. In short, it’s an easy favorite for the year’s cooler months.
What Are the Best Spirits for a Hot Toddy?
A traditional hot toddy always uses whiskey as its base. Of course, that still leaves you with plenty of options.
And you have even more options if you decide to branch out from whiskey altogether.
Here are some of my favorite spirits to use with a hot toddy:
- Irish whiskey
- Dark rum
- Spiced rum
In truth, you can use whatever base you like. Just realize changing the spirit will slightly change the taste.
While the ingredients in a hot toddy vary, here’s the recipe I enjoy most:
- Whiskey – Bourbon is my go-to whiskey for this drink because I always have it on hand. I also enjoy using spiced rum as the base.
- Hot water – This recipe calls for one cup of hot water, but play with that amount to suit your tastes. I sometimes use less when I want the other flavors to shine. Remember, the more water you add, the more “watered down” your cocktail will be.
- Honey – Honey is both flavorful and medicinal in this drink. It sweetens the cocktail and helps soothe soreness in your throat.
- Fresh lemon juice -The hot toddy is all about balance. The honey sweetens it, and the fresh lemon juice gives it a complementary tart finish. Use more for a tarter drink, less for a sweeter one.
- Garnishes – This recipe calls for a cinnamon stick and a lemon slice. Those are excellent garnishes, but you don’t have to stick to them. Add star anise, a pinch of cloves, or anything else you like.
How to Make a Hot Toddy
There are only two steps to making a hot toddy:
1. Warm your mug. While this step isn’t required, it’s a good idea. Pouring the drink into an already-hot cup will keep it warm for longer.
2. Make the drink. Combine all of the ingredients in the mug. Stir them well until the honey dissolves. Then, add your garnishes, and enjoy!
Tips and Variations
Try these tips and variations to make your hot toddy even more enjoyable.
- Adjust the sweetness. Add more honey or lemon juice to taste if desired. Hot toddies should have a nice balance of sweetness and tartness.
- Swap out the sweetener. Honey is traditional, but you can use maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.
- Add a tea bag for extra spice. Hot cinnamon spice and orange spice both work well in hot toddies. You can also use hot tea in place of the water.
- Vary the garnishes. Try other garnishes, like an apple slice or freshly peeled ginger. For a more aromatic toddy, add whole cloves or star anise.
- Make it vegan. Use maple syrup instead of honey.
- Give it an apple finish. Swap out the hot water for hot apple cider instead. This is probably my favorite hot toddy variation EVER. If you like it as much as I do, you should try a few other tasty apple cider cocktails.
- Leave out the alcohol. This drink tastes delicious with or without the spirits. Substitute hot tea, cranberry juice, or something else for a non-alcoholic version.
How to Serve It
Hot toddies are best served on cold, windy nights by a roaring fire with a cuddly dog draped across your feet.
Serve them with a cinnamon stick, lemon slice garnish, and a star anise or two dropped into the glass.
The mug will be warm, so enjoy the drink with caution. Don’t burn your fingers or your tongue.
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