Making the not so classic Hot Toddy.
The Hot Toddy is one of those cocktails like the Mai Thai, where everybody knows about it and almost all of the recipes seem to differ in some way. But unlike the Mai Thai, the origin recipes for the Hot Toddy are really not that great.
Jeffery Morgenthaler sums things up nicely in this YouTube interview by stating “I fucking hate Hot Toddies”. Although I’m doubtful I share his level of opposition to the original version, I agree that the primitive combinations of whiskey, white sugar, and boiling water leave a lot to be desired.
The array of ingredients that tastes good in a Toddy seems endless.
Whiskey, brandy, aged rum, lemon, grapefruit, orange, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and any number of spices can be arranged to work well with one another.
So what ingredients should you use for a Hot Toddy?
Well the short answer is whatever you want.
This version is not from a textbook, it just happens to be the combination of flavors that I think tastes nice.
If your pantry or home bar is pushing you to use other ingredients, then by all means do it. The only suggestion I encourage you to try is using a scotch or Irish whiskey that has a little bit of smokiness.
But any nice whiskey will work just fine.
A great option here is Monkey Shoulder blended scotch whiskey which is designed specifically for mixing cocktails but can also stand up quite nicely on its’ own.
Making the Toddy easy-ish
Some of the cocktails and recipes on Drinking Hobby can be more involved than the typical home bartender whips up. Homemade syrups, tinctures or infusions take time, so in an effort to discourage as few people as possible from making a Hot Toddy this is the “quick version”.
It still is a little involved with the steeping of the ingredients and all, but if I were to obsess over it too long and create an ultimate Hot Toddy (which maybe I will do sometime), it would likely require a customized toddy syrup of some sort, but we won't do that.
Mind you, that would be ideal if you had a Hot Toddy on your bar menu or were making it for a party, so I will probably experiment with that further.
How to build the cocktail
I like to make this drink by steeping everything in a cocktail shaker double boiler, credit to Mr. Morgenthaler.
It is a little involved but the resulting drink with all of its’ spiced goodness is well worth the effort.
You could get similar results by using dried and ground versions of all the spices, but I prefer the flavor of fresh ginger in most cases. And if you need to steep the ginger for a few minutes you may as well just use whole versions of the other spices too.
1. Start by boiling a kettle of water.
2. Then add all the other ingredients to the small tin of your shaker and firmly press the ginger and cloves to coax out more of their flavor.
3. Once the water has boiled fill a mug halfway with water so that it is hot and ready for the finished drink.
4. Then add about 3-4 inches of hot water to the large tin of your shaker and place the smaller tin inside to create a double boiler.
5. Now add 3 ounces of the hot water to the small tin, stir, and let it steep for 3-5 minutes, strain and enjoy.
Make your own Hot Toddy recipes
For large parties you could scale this recipe by gently heating all the ingredients together in a small saucepan for maybe 5 minutes on a low heat until the flavor is drawn out of the spices and it reaches your desired temperature.
I also encourage you to try other flavor combinations to find something you love.
Try using different spirits (or combinations of them) such as aged rum, or any type of brandy. Maple syrup, alternative varieties of sugar, agave syrup or different honeys will all give you some new elements to experiment with.
And then for the spices. Allspice, nutmeg, anise, or cardamom would all work nicely, and I have also seen people add different flavors of liqueurs which could add a totally new layer of interest.
You know the deal, try everything that sounds good
Hot Toddy Recipe
- 1 1/2 oz Whiskey - (your choice)
- 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz Honey
- 3 discs Fresh Ginger
- 1/2 stick Cinnamon
- 5 Dried Cloves
- 1 piece Lemon or Orange Peel - (optional)
- ~3 oz Boiling Water
- Boil a kettle of water.
- Add all the ingredients other than the water to the small side of your shaker tin.
- Once the water has boiled prepare your mug by filling it half way with boiling water and set aside.
- Add ~3 oz of boiling water to the small shaker tin (depending on how strong you like it).
- Using a muddler, firmly press the cloves and ginger to help release more of their flavor.
- Now add about 2-3 inches of boiling water to the larger tin and place the smaller tin with all the ingredients inside to create a mini double boiler.
- Let the mixture steep for 3 minutes
- Dump the hot water before double straining the drink into your preheated mug.
- Express the oils from a lemon or orange peel over the top of the finished drink if your're in the mood.
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Where to get it:
It seems like it might just be some made up science, but drinking a Hot Toddy when you have a bit of a cold really does make it seem better.
Obviously that could just be because you had a few ounces of whiskey, but either way it seems to help.