Why the Hot Toddy is a Man’s Ultimate Winter Cocktail… and How to Make It

created at: 12/16/2014

Egg nog is a divisive libation, loved by its proponents and eschewed by any means from its haters. Many think the idea of warming wine and adding oranges and cloves and such is a waste of perfectly good wine, and many of us are happy to simply take a black coffee and a glass of whiskey, rather than trying to Irish up anything.    But, filled with the cheer of the holidays, we can all hold hands and gather round the yule log to sing the praises of the Hot Toddy. We’re naming it the perfect wintertime drink – not just because its warm, but because every single component is conducive to the season. 

Here’s why: 

Aged Spirits. Whether it’s bourbon, dark rum, brandy, Scotch whisky, even añejo tequila, a hot toddy is always (or should be) made with barrel aged booze. It’s the mellowing process whether the alcohol mixes with the toasted wood in the barrel that produces those warm, vanilla-like flavors that work so well when it’s cold out.

It’s hot. As in Hot Toddy. The drink is hot, and in winter, you are not. Enough said.

It’s full of spices. The reason Christmas smells “like Christmas?” In addition to bringing in a tree from the outdoors, it’s those warm, winter-y spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. Before total globalization, these exports from the Middle and Far East were precious commodities, used efficiently in special occasion dishes, like for, say, the holidays. Remember, it was spices, not oil or gold, that fueled world exploration and international conflict for centuries. 

It features winter citrus. Know that old tradition of getting an orange in your stocking? For generations, like spices, for those who didn’t live in citrus-growing climates, a citrus fruit was a rare treat, available for export when they were at their most hardy, in late fall through winter.

It’s salubrious. That is, it’s good for your health. And who couldn’t use a little booze-filled boost during cold and flu season? It’s like when your grandma gives you hot tea with lemon and honey, except, you know, there’s whiskey in it. 

created at: 12/16/2014

Convinced? Let’s make one. 
These can easily be sized up to make in batch and kept warm in a slow cooker. In that case, simply add the spices directly to the crock. 

  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon or Scotch whisky (or Irish whiskey, rye, or brandy, or rum, etc, etc)
  • 1 oz. honey or 1:1 raw sugar simple syrup 
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice 
  • 1 2-3″ cinnamon stick, 1 clove, 1 allspice berry
  • Boiling water
  • Garnish: orange or lemon slice or peel

Combine spirits, sweetener, and lemon juice in a mug. Crack spices and add, then top with boiling water. Add orange or lemon and enjoy.