As a kid growing up in Manila I was always given a mixture of hot water, honey, and lemon whenever I felt marginally under the weather—a non-alcoholic toddy, if you will. And while it didn’t always “cure” whatever ailed me, it certainly eased some discomfort and made things a tad more tolerable. (After all, the classic winter cocktail has been warming throats for centuries.)
Now that I’m in my early 40s, I still channel my childhood and drink a hot toddy—this time with a nip of whiskey—not just when I feel the sniffles coming on, but also whenever I feel like I’m stuck in the Arctic tundra. It never fails to give me that flash of much-needed warmth, and it’s always fun to experiment with various iterations of the cocktail. (Because along with the gin and tonic, the classic hot toddy is a perfect blank canvas of a drink.) Below are nine variations to try when you’re feeling out of sorts—or just in the mood for a warm, soothing concoction.
CREATIVE HOT TODDY RECIPES FOR WINTER
PATRÓN HOT TODDY
“For winter cocktails there is no better, or more classic drink to turn to than the Patrón Hot Toddy. In addition to utilizing premium aged tequila, this cocktail marries traditional wintertime ingredients such as cinnamon, lemon, vanilla, and honey, making for a drink that is sure to warm you up from the inside out.” —Stephen Halpin, manager of trade education and mixology at Patrón Tequila
2 oz. Patrón Añejo
3 oz. hot water
1.5 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. honey
1 pinch of ground cinnamon
3 drops vanilla extract
Method: In the bottom of a sturdy mug, combine a pinch of ground cinnamon, honey and hot water and stir to combine. Add Patrón Añejo, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine all ingredients.
“Sweater Weather is the feeling of being cozy in a cup. I love having a batch of pre-made butter in the fridge for an on-the-fly cocktail that will impress house guests, or as a treat for myself after a long day. This cocktail combines all the best flavors of winter—Cutwater’s award-winning bourbon, spiced butter, and vanilla—to create a warm cocktail cold weather staple for your home bar year after year!” —Laura Price, master bartender at Cutwater Spirits Tasting Room & Kitchen, San Diego, CA
1.5 oz. Cutwater Bourbon
0.5 oz. vanilla liqueur
1 tablespoon Cutwater dark rum/nutmeg butter*
1 lb. butter (softened to room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1.5 oz. Cutwater Dark Rum
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
*Dark Rum Nutmeg Butter: Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl. Blend until well incorporated. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator, bring out to thaw once ready to serve.
Method: Add bourbon, vanilla liqueur, and nutmeg butter to a coffee mug. Add hot water and stir until incorporated. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!
BIG APPLE CIDER TODDY
“When I think of hot cocktails in NYC I immediately think of cider and bourbon (this is the Big Apple after all!) For this cocktail, we are taking simple hot spiked cider and concentrating things a little. I like to think of it as hot bourbon with apple cider syrup as opposed to hot cider with bourbon. I like to feel that burn a little more. By reducing the cider, the flavors and sugars concentrate and take on a caramel flavor that adds a lot of depth to this simple classic. This cocktail always brings back memories of going on shopping dates with my wife in the Union Square holiday market and sneaking a little nip into our plain white paper cup of hot cider that must be bought from a stand in the farmer’s market.” —John Dillon, bar manager at Barbuto, New York, NY
2 oz. bourbon (Four Roses, Buffalo Trace, and Elijah Craig are some of my favorites)
4 oz. spiced cider syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Star anise, garnish
Method: In a small saucepan, pour 1 cup of apple cider and add one cinnamon stick, one clove, a pinch of grated nutmeg and a slice of fresh ginger (but have fun with your mulling spices, whatever you like). Turn the heat on low and let this simmer and reduce by about half. Once the cider has cooked down, throw in your choice of bourbon, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, and stir so that everything gets mixed evenly and nicely heated. Turn off the heat, and carefully pour into a hot toddy glass, mug, or other favorite cocktail glass. Garnish with one star anise.
EARL GREY TODDY
“The Hot Toddy is one of my favorite cold weather cocktails. For me, the key to a great Hot Toddy is making sure not to water down your base spirit and to ensure that the glass you’re serving it in is nice and hot. The richness of Pedro Ximénez combined with the savory qualities of amontillado sherry accentuate the bold flavors of Jack Daniel’s Bonded while keeping the ABV of the cocktail in balance. The tannins and citrus notes of Earl Grey provide structure without over diluting the cocktail. Overall, this is an easy to make, subtle twist on the classic.” —Chris Lemperle, head bartender at Overstory, New York, NY
1 tsp. Pedro Ximénez sherry (Lustau)
1 tsp. honey syrup (2:1)*
1000 ml. honey
500 ml. hot water
0.25 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. amontillado sherry (Lustau)
1.5 oz. Jack Daniel’s Bonded
3 oz. hot Earl Grey tea**
1000 ml. hot water
15 g. Earl Grey tea
Dirty Sue Whiskey Cherry, garnish
Lemon twist, garnish
*Honey Syrup (2:1): Combine ingredients, whisk to incorporate. Bottle, label, and store for use.
**Earl Grey Tea: Steep tea in hot water for 10 minutes. Strain tea. Keep hot for use.
Method: Preheat a coffee or teacup with hot water. Discard hot water. Add all ingredients to the hot glass, adding the hot tea last. Stir gently with a spoon to incorporate. Garnish with a Dirty Sue Whiskey Cherry and a lemon twist.
“I don’t necessarily love a toddy so I wanted to put a hot drink on the menu that I would personally drink. Using cinnamon syrup instead of honey, honey liqueur instead of allspice dram, and calvados in place of whiskey creates a really fun profile of a dessert, somewhere between apple pie and bread pudding.” —Jenna Rosenbloom, beverage director and general manager at Mountaineering Club, Seattle, WA
0.25 oz. Monin cinnamon syrup
1 oz. calvados
0.5 oz. Drambuie
0.5 oz. banana liqueur
5 oz. boiling water
Banana chip, garnish
Cinnamon bear, garnish
Method: Combine all ingredients in a heat-treated glass and garnish with a banana chip and cinnamon bear.
“The goal here was to make a lighter drinking toddy with some rich elements in it. Because it’s majority vodka, it allows the rum to work more in conjunction with the cinnamon rather than being the main flavor in the drink. The Sfumato adds an earthy bitterness that balances with the lemon. If you had access to a milk frother, I bet this would be awesome with milk in place of the water.” —Brett Adams, education manager and spirits curator, Multnomah Whiskey Library, Portland, OR
1 oz. Timberline Vodka
0.5 oz. Plantation Dark Rum
0.5 oz. cinnamon syrup
0.25 oz. lemon
0.5 tsp. Sfumato Amaro
3 oz. hot water
Method: Combine vodka, rum, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and amaro in a glass mug. Stir gently. Top with hot water. Express the orange peel over the mug and use as garnish.
FISHERS HOT TODDY
“The Fishers Hot Toddy came to be because of my mom, as hard as it was for me to admit she was onto something. It was the fall of 2014, I had just launched Fishers Island Lemonade that summer and was also still working as a bartender at The Pequot, my family’s restaurant, where I came up with the idea for canning our signature cocktail: the Fishers Island Lemonade. When a guest ordered a hot toddy, I started to mix the whiskey, honey, and lemon and my mom asked me, ‘Isn’t that nearly the same ingredients as your canned cocktail, just heated up?’ She then went to heat up a can of our product and tested it herself, and we quickly discovered Fishers Island Lemonade indeed makes a delicious and convenient hot toddy. I like to add a floater of whiskey in mine—try it on a cold night and you will love it!” —Bronya Shillo, founder of Fishers Island Lemonade
6 oz. Fishers Island Lemonade (½ can)
1 oz. whiskey
Method: Simmer Fishers and cinnamon in a saucepan. Pour into glass. Add floater of whiskey if desired. (You can make 6–8 servings of the cocktail by using 3–4 cans of lemonade and 3–4 oz. of whiskey.) Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon wheel.
NEWBURY HOT TODDY
“The cocktail is the Hot Toddy, which is a four-ounce, in-house bottled mix of equal parts St. George Baller Whiskey and St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur that’s featured exclusively on our fireplace menu (which is offered in every one of our forty rooms that have wood burning fireplaces). I believe it to be the perfect cocktail for our winter season as this quintessential warm winter libation is sure to warm the soul when enjoyed by a roaring fireplace that’s expertly prepared by our fireplace butler team. It’s delivered via room service and prepared in-room by our service team with hot water, lemon juice, and Newbury honey from our own apiaries.” —Robert Rouleau, food and beverage director at Newbury Hotel, Boston, MA
1 oz. Baller Single Malt Whiskey
1 oz. St George Spiced Pear Liqueur
1 oz. lemon juice
1 tbsp. of Newbury Honey
6 oz. hot water
Method: Build in a hot toddy glass or mug. Garnish with a lemon and star anise.
THE FUZZY FEELS
“Cocktails should give you comfort and those fuzzy feelings of love. This cocktail is winter vibes with tart cranberry and rich ginger syrup bringing the coriander and bright citrus thru from Fords Gin. Slight sweetness and lemon mellow the warm drink to feel like a fuzzy warm hug. I wanted to create a cocktail that any level of cocktail bar could execute. Ginger syrup is easily available with syrup companies if one doesn’t wish to make it by hand.” —Katherine Parsons, bar manager at Fort Green, Oakland, CA
2 oz. Fords Gin
0.50 oz. cranberry juice (like Ocean Spray)
0.50 oz. lemon juice
0.50 oz. ginger syrup
0.25 oz. demerara sugar
3.5 oz. hot water
Method: First boil water. Then in a hot toddy glass, add all ingredients. Once water reaches boiling point add the hot water to the glass. Lightly stir to incorporate the hot water and ingredients. Garnish with a cranberry, candied ginger, and sage combined on a pick.