Come the holiday season, hot toddies are ideal for entertaining, providing spirited fun and a means to chasing away the winter chill.
Hot toddies have been around for centuries. Usually a mix of a spirit — either whiskey, rum or brandy — hot water, honey and spices, some believe the word “toddy” comes from an Indian drink of the same name that is produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees. Other sources say the hot toddy was created by Dr. Robert Bentley Todd, an Irish physician who prescribed a drink made of brandy, white cinnamon, sugar syrup, and water. The drink was dubbed the “hot toddy.”
Hot drinks embellished with alcohol were long used for medicinal purposes. While alcoholic beverages are no longer used as medicine, hot toddies can still chase away a chill. “Grog” is another name given to hot alcoholic drinks, or any drink in which unmeasured amounts of spirits are mixed with other ingredients. Grog may also refer to a water-and-rum mixture that sea merchants once drank. The water kept the merchants hydrated, while the rum prevented the water from spoiling during voyages.
The classic hot toddy can be a versatile drink used to keep guests comfortable and cheerful. This warm libation is soothing and savory, mixing citrus, honey and spices, which each have their various health benefits.
Although hot toddy recipes vary, the following is the recipe for a classic hot toddy, as culled by recipes from Wine Enthusiast, Imbibe and PBS Food.
Classic Hot Toddy
1 1⁄2 oz bourbon, whiskey or another brown liquor
1 TBS honey
1⁄2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 cup boiling water
Cloves or star anise
Combine liquor, lemon juice, honey, and boiling water together in a mug or Irish coffee glass. Push cloves or star anise into the lemon wedge. Add the cinnamon stick and lemon wedge to the mug. Allow lemon and cinnamon stick to steep in the beverage for a few minutes. Stir and enjoy.