Hot Toddy Time
You know that feeling you get after spending hours outside in freezing weather? When you are so cold you forget what it’s like to feel warm. The freezing temperatures makes your muscles tense as if your shoulders are welded together and attached to your ears. Nothing feels right when a winter chill seeps into your bones. When I get that cold, the thought of sitting by a fire or taking a hot bath becomes a fantasy vacation. There is another solution for getting warm and that is sipping a Hot Toddy.
I’d almost forgotten Hot Toddies and its’ warming powers. Thanks to an outdoor fundraiser in February and an Irish Pub on 10th Ave, a distant memory defrosted from my archives. On a frigid February day, the westerly winds blowing off the Hudson River nearly defeated us. Our walk took us down a path from 42nd street to Battery Park, then back up to 23rd Street. Me and my co-conspirators were desperate to warm up. Our scheduled reward of a free pancake breakfast lost its’ appeal for something stronger, so we headed over to 10th Avenue and right into an Irish pub. Upon entering, our waiter accurately read our frozen expressions and sat us down at a table by the fire and suggested a Hot Toddy for our beverage.
A Hot Toddy. I immediately fell in love with this pub. Just the mention of this soothing cocktail made me relax. It also brought back memories of winter sailing with Dad on the San Francisco Bay. Winter in the Bay Area is nowhere near as cold as New York, but it is damp and that makes the air feel like it’s below freezing. Sometimes after a particularly cold day of sailing, Dad made Hot Toddies for “the crew”. His recipe was a simple one with boiling water, bourbon, honey, a drop of lemon, and a cinnamon stick. It wasn’t fancy, but it was the perfect remedy after a day of sailing through the fog. Even though my Hot Toddy only contained a drop of bourbon, I still felt its’ warming powers.
I associate Hot Toddies with outdoor winter activities, but don’t limit yourself to just one type of occasion. Any time you want to relax or warm up is perfect for Toddy time. It is a cocktail to sip and relax with, not a let’s go drinking drink. For centuries a Hot Toddy was prescribed to cure many ailments like a sore throat, a cold or anxiety. It is a soothing drink, not a strong one. However, as history has shown, this cocktail is open to interpretation and variation.
What I learned is, throughout history Hot Toddies were made with local ingredients like Irish Whiskey in Ireland, Rum or Brandy in the US, and Scotch in Scotland. It also originated in India, not Scotland as I thought. Now, there are many variations made with apple cider, tea, ginger ale, tequila, vodka, gin, or served with whipped cream on top. Personally, I am partial to the traditional recipe for a Hot Toddy because I believe the warming notes of caramel found in whiskey is integral to the flavor profile of the drink. You won’t find whipped cream topping my Hot Toddy either.
How to Make a Hot Toddy
It is a good idea to temper your glass, so the Hot Toddy stays hot for as long as possible. Use an 6-8 oz (185-250 ml) Irish Coffee mug or a glass suitable for hot beverages. Or, add a metal spoon into a glass and pour the boiling water over the spoon to prevent the glass from cracking.
My Hot Toddy ratio is 2 parts water, or other hot non-alcoholic beverage, to one part spirit: 4 oz (125 ml) hot water to 2 oz (60 ml) whiskey. I am partial to Irish Whiskey, like Jameson or Tullamore Dew, but a bourbon like Makers Mark with its’ smooth and sweet honey notes would taste nice in a Hot Toddy. In my opinion a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup taste best. Lemon juice and orange or lemon slices are a nice touch with woody spices. Add 1-2 spices so they do not compete with each other, or no spices at all. I enjoy the different spices because each sip carries a unique flavor from the steeping spices.
However you choose to make your Hot Toddy, try this traditional recipe, at least once. You will soon feel its mellow effects and warm to any occasion.
- 4 oz 125 ml boiling water
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 oz 60 ml Irish Whiskey or Bourbon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise optional
- 1 -2 cloves optional
- thin slice of lemon
- a quarter slice of an orange optional
Fill a drinking glass like an Irish Coffee glass, or a large snifter, or 6 oz glass mug, with hot water to warm up your glass. If your glass is not made for hot beverages, temper it by putting a metal kitchen spoon in the glass before you add the water. Keep your water hot in the tea kettle while you wait for your glass to warm up about 5 minutes.
Empty your glass and add 4 oz (125 ml) of boiling water to your warmed mug. Use the spoon method again so your glass won't crack. Add the honey and lemon juice and stir until the honey is dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick, whisky and the lemon and orange slices, studded with a clove or two for garnish. Add a star anise if using. Drink while it is hot.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.