Over the past few years, the term “hot toddy” has become a bit of a catch-all for warm cocktails, but the traditional hot toddy refers to a specific drink. To fall under the category of a hot toddy, it must contain three specific elements: hot water, a spirit and a sweetener. After that, any additional elements can vary, but the way the drink is served is completely related to the location it originates from. The Scottish make theirs with scotch whisky, the Irish make theirs with Irish whiskey and Americans are partial to using bourbon as the base. Depending on the style of hot toddy, additional ingredients such as lemon, cinnamon and cloves may be added.
Hot Toddy History
“The exact origin of the hot toddy is unknown, but it has been suggested that it dates back to at least the 17th century and was founded in Scotland,” says Beam Suntory Master Mixologist Bobby Gleason. It’s rumored that Scottish members of the East Indian Company brought the idea for the drink back to Scotland after imbibing a toddy (a drink made from fermented palm tree sap) in India.
Crafting Your Own Hot Toddy
One of the best things about the hot toddy is the fact that there isn’t technically an official way to make one. The options are unlimited. “The versatility of the hot toddy allows anyone to put their own personal spin on a recipe,” says Gleason. “The best place to start is with a mixable spirit.” He recommends 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey because it was distilled with mixing in mind. It starts with smooth, malty and slightly sweet flavor followed by a honey and citrus finish. “It also features spicy wood notes that carry a hint of caramel and vanilla to the finish.
Build out your cocktail
Spice Things Up – “Add a pinch of spice to give your toddy some kick.” We recommend freshly grated cinnamon, cloves, chamomile and ginger.
Tea Time: “Instead of simply using hot water, try different types of tea, including oolong, green tea and earl grey, and orange. These allow you to obtain a very personal flavor for your toddy.”
Fresh Fruit = Fresh Flavors – “Refreshing cocktails and fruit are a natural pairing, but hot cocktails? Just as good. Since the toddy is best served when the weather gets colder, we encourage you to think about incorporating the flavors of winter – pears, golden apples, lemon and orange zest.”
Create a Stir – “Guests will have fun choosing their own edible utensil to stir their toddy. Try a cinnamon stick, licorice or peppermint stick.”
Sweeten The Deal: “Some guests might not be big whiskey drinkers, and that’s quite alright. Temper the burn a bit with a unique natural sweetening element other than sugar – honey, maple syrup, cognac and brandy work to perfection.”
When it comes to making a hot toddy, Gleason says that having fun is the most important part. “Unlike most classic cocktails, you don’t have to stick to a specific recipe to successfully make a hot toddy.” Start with your favorite whiskey and experiment, play around, and find a recipe that works for you. He’s also a big fan of a “Hot Toddy Bar” for holiday entertaining. “If you’re hosting a dinner party, holiday cocktails or gathering with friends, try setting up different stations of hot water/ciders/teas, 2 Gingers, sweeteners and garnishes, and allow your guests to customize their toddy to their liking.”
- 2 GINGERS® Hot Toddy
- 4 parts 2 GINGERS® Irish Whiskey
- 2 parts Agave Nectar
- 1 part Ginger Liqueur
- 1 part Lemon Juice
- A dash of aromatic bitters
Combine ingredients in a mug. Top off with hot water, stir, and garnish by floating a lemon wheel stabbed with dry cloves. Alternative garnish: cinnamon stick.