The hot toddy goes back to the days when the medicine cabinet and the liquor cabinet were the same things. The hot toddy is made by taking a little whiskey and adding some citrus and spice for flavor and a little sweetener to make the medicine go down a little easier. Add boiling water and you have the ultimate winter warmer cocktail.
The thing is, within those four base ingredients, you can go in a million directions. Want to use floral tea instead of spice? Sure. In Canada, you’re more likely to see maple syrup than honey. The original recipes call for brandy or rum instead of whiskey. Even which citrus you use is negotiable at the end of the day. All of that aside, the recipe below is a modern-classic version with Tennessee whiskey, honey, lemon, bitters, orange, and clove. This is a basic recipe that you can make your own.
Let’s get mixing!
- 1.5-oz. whiskey
- 1-oz. fresh lemon juice
- 0.5-oz. honey
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Orange wedge
- Hot water
I’m using Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey because it’s a great mixing whiskey and carries flavors that feel very late fall/wintry. Naturally, you can use pretty much any whisk(e)y you want. Though, I’d stay away from peat monsters from the Highlands, Islands, or Islay regions of Scotland. Mildly peated scotches like Dalwhinnie or Talisker can work though. So don’t be afraid to play around.
Beyond that, I’m using a simple honey, some freshly squeezed lemon juice (that’s sieved to remove pulp), and a couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters. That last component helps to add depth and spiciness to the mix.
Oh, and don’t forget the water. You need boiling water that you’d make tea with.
What You’ll Need:
- Clear mug
- Paring knife
- Hand juicer
- Fine sieve
- Boil some water and fill your mug and let rest while you slice an orange wedge and pierce the flesh with a few cloves to make the garnish.
- Pour the water out of the mug.
- Add the honey, bitters, whiskey, and lemon juice to the hot mug and stir with the barspoon to combine.
- Top with boiling water and stir again until the honey mix is completely dissolved.
- Drop in the orange wedge and serve immediately.
Even though I was alone when I made this, I said out loud to no one, “Oh, yeah. That’s the stuff!” This was just right for right now.
The depth of the whiskey was not lost with a slight nuttiness and deep caramel and vanilla. The lemon and honey added a great sweet/sour balance. The bitters and cloves created a woody spiciness with a smooth warmth.
This was pure comfort in a mug. I can’t wait to spend the winter months drinking this every time I feel a chill.