The hot toddy has a reputation as a medicinal, go-to-when-you’re-sick kind of beverage. While it can still be great for that (it’s sort of history’s version of NyQuil — but tastier), today’s more modern twists make it a terrific cold-weather cocktail. Here’s how to whip up some hot toddy goodness for yourself in three easy steps.
Step 1: Choose Your Base
Traditionally, the toddy is composed of hot water, alcohol, and sweetener, and while we’re still going to do that with ours, we’re going to pump it up a bit. The first step is to add flavor to the hot water. That could mean using spices, herbs, or tea.
Your spices can be anything you enjoy, though cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and clove are sure-fire winners. If you have some on hand, mulling spices are perfect for this. Similarly, herbs can be any that you think will mix well with a cocktail or give you the medicinal benefits you’re after. Chamomile and lavender are particularly soothing, while sage and rosemary just might cure the common cold. (Please note, we are not doctors and do not intend to give any medical advice.)
Any kind of tea — black, green, white, oolong — can be infused for your hot toddy pleasure. If you want maximum health benefits, go for the green; if you’re looking to tantalize your tastebuds, reach for a spiced black chai. To really make this whole thing simple, just go grab your favorite herbal or flavored tea.
Make your base: Steep about 1 teaspoon chosen flavoring ingredients in 3-4 ounces hot (boiled) water for 3-5 minutes; strain.
Step 2: Choose Your Liquor
This one’s easy: What have you got in your liquor cabinet? To make it a true toddy, you’ll need a good, strong spirit. That usually means whiskey, rum, or brandy, but you can also use tequila, scotch, or bourbon.
Add your liquor: Stir 2-3 ounces of your chosen spirit into the hot water mixture.
Step 3: Choose Your Add-Ins
The final ingredient — or ingredients, if you so choose — is what adds that last bit of panache to your beverage. If you want to keep things super simple, just stir in sugar, honey, or maple syrup to sweeten, then drink to your heart’s delight.
But if you want to punch things up even more, try adding a twist of citrus, spiced butter, or a splash of milk. Each has their own charm, and each can give your cocktail that extra “wow” factor.
Add your extras: Stir add-ins into hot alcohol mixture, to taste. Yup, the amount really is all up to you!
Basic Hot Toddy
- 3-4 ounces hot water
- 1 teaspoon mulling spices
- 0.5 ounces honey
- 2 ounces liquor of choice
In a mug, steep spices in hot water for five minutes; strain. Add liquor, then stir in honey until dissolved.
Hot Buttered Toddy
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch of cloves
- pinch of salt
- 4 ounces freshly brewed, hot Winter Comfort Chai
- 2-3 oz dark rum
- cimmamon sticks and orange slices, to garnish
By hand or with an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, spices, and salt. Transfer to a container or roll into a log shape in plastic wrap, then refrigerate until just firm.
Make your tea!
To assemble drinks:
Place about 2 tablespoons of the butter into a mug. Top with 2-3 ounces of rum, then fill the mug the rest of the way with the hot tea. Stir well, garnish with a cinnamon stick and an orange slice, and enjoy!
Keep any unused butter in the fridge or freezer for up to a month.
Photo Credits: PDPics, Nile, kaboompics, Becky Stern, Patrick Truby, and Billy’s Booze Blog.