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Hot Toddies for Everyone

Hot Toddies for Everyone

Two Recipes for a Great Winter Drink

Hot toddyBy Veronica Rinaldi

A hot toddy is the number-one treatment for an adult with a cold. In “How to Drink,” author Victoria Moore describes the drink as “the vitamin C for your health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.” It helps that it’s also delicious. That being said, one too many toddies may have you waking up feeling much worse than before. All good things in moderation, if you know what I mean.

The traditional “Hot Toddy” (or Tottie, or Totty) usually refers to a drink of spirit base, hot water, sugar and spices. Its simplest form consists of whiskey, honey, cinnamon, hot water and lemon.

Other versions use herbal teas, coffee or cider, along with a variety of spices like nutmeg and cardamom. Basically, what we get is a great base recipe for our very own perfect hot toddy.

Though it is not certain from where the cocktail originated, the hot toddy dates to at least the 17th century. The toddy we enjoy today most likely came from Scotland, where there are rumors that the drink got its name from being made with water from Tod’s Well in Edinburgh, and was used to treat colds.

Another theory states that, since Great Britain was involved in trade with India at the time the hot toddy was invented, the cocktail may have been named for an Indian drink toddy (or tārī in Hindu) made from the fermented sap of the toddy palm.

No matter which is true, I don’t think palm sap is a widely used ingredient in modern versions.

The hot toddy made its way to American colonists during the revolutionary war, and legend says it was used as liquid courage for battle.

I decided to make two versions of the hot toddy: One more traditional, and the other an Earl Grey version. I used bourbon for both because I had it on hand, and because I like bourbon.

Bourbon is a distinctive product of the United States, originating in one of two places: Bourbon County, Kentucky; or Bourbon Street, New Orleans.

Thanks to Congress, bourbon must be distilled in the U.S. from at least 51 percent corn and aged in new toasted oak barrels for at least two years.

For our more traditional hot toddy, rye whiskey, brandy or scotch would do nicely.

For both drinks, please remember to warm your mugs with hot water before you start building the cocktail.


Bourbon Hot Toddy 

Serves: 1


1.5 ounces bourbon (or spirit of choice)

1 tablespoon honey OR 2 sugar cubes

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

hot water

Cinnamon to top

Add honey to heated mug and fill halfway with hot water; stir until honey has dissolved. Pour in your bourbon and lemon juice, stir and fill to top with hot water. Garnish with lemon and a dash or two of cinnamon. Enjoy!

Earl Grey Hot Toddy 

Serves: 2


2 Earl Grey teabags

3 ounces bourbon (or spirit of choice)

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey

boiling water

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in kettle or sauce pan; once water is boiling, remove from the heat and allow tea bags to steep (covered) for 3-5 minutes. Take tea bags out, pour in lemon juice and stir in honey. Add 1.5 ounces of bourbon to each heated mug, then top with tea mixture. Garnish with a slice of lemon and some nutmeg. Enjoy!

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Ashley Kurtz is a freelance theater critic.

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