The Hot Toddy is a seriously old cocktail. We’re talking horse-drawn-buggy and Isaac-Newton old. And, surprisingly, it hasn’t really changed all that much. All you need for this borderline-medicinal and objectively-comforting drink is some hot water, a few spices, a bit of honey, and, preferably, some whiskey. We like bourbon for this drink (it’s great with honey and lemon), but if you want to use rye, go for it. Scotch is also a perfectly respectable choice (especially if you’re feeling traditional), and both cognac and dark rum will be delicious as well.
The Hot Toddy
- 1.75 ounces bourbon (or rye, scotch, cognac, or dark rum)
- 5 ounces hot water
- 1 ounce honey syrup
- .5 ounce lemon juice
- Lemon wheel
- Cinnamon stick
- 8 whole cloves
Step One: Honey Syrup
First, we’re going to make some honey syrup. Why? Because honey syrup is so much easier to stir into a drink than a blob of plain honey. To make your syrup, just mix equal parts honey and hot water, then stir until the honey is dissolved. Add 1 ounce honey syrup directly into a mug.
Step Two: Lemon Juice
Next, you need to add some zip and acidity to your drink, so toss in .5 ounce lemon juice. (If you plan on taking pride in your drink, don’t use store-bought lemon juice. Make your own. It’s easy.)
Step Three: Cloves & Lemon
Now for the arts-and-crafts part. First, slice one lemon wheel - which is just a round, thin, cross-section of lemon. Once you have that, take your 8 whole cloves and insert them evenly spaced around the outside of your lemon wheel. (See the picture below.) After you make one, throw it into your mug. You can reuse the same clove-studded wheel for all of your refills.
Step Four: Cinnamon
This step is optional, but we happen to believe that a whole cinnamon stick helps fill out the flavor of a Hot Toddy. Also, it both looks and tastes festive, so go ahead and throw one in your mug.
Step Five: Whiskey
Next, add your whiskey (or rum, cognac, etc.). There’s nothing too complicated about this step, just pour 1.75 ounces into your mug.
Step Six: Hot Water
Finally, it’s time for your Hot Toddy to spread its wings and become the delicious cocktail it was always meant to be. Heat some water in a kettle, and fill your mug with roughly 5 ounces of near-boiling water. Next, give everything a brief stir (careful not to knock the cloves out of your lemon), then let your drink sit until it’s cool enough to enjoy. You’ll know it’s ready when it no longer burns you when you put it in your mouth. Ready for a refill? Leave the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon wheel in your glass, and just add some more whiskey, honey syrup, and hot water. It’s that easy.