Have You Ever Tried A Hot Toddy? Have One This Winter

As the winter season arrives, and even the strongest of us begin to think about the bleak reality that the season will drag on until few months, we’d like to take a moment to talk about a possible winter helper: The Hot Toddy.

Warm, delicious and boozy, the classic hot toddy is a favourite winter drink of almost everyone. Made with honey, lemon and whiskey, what’s not there to love?

Not only is it quick and easy to make, it’s delicious too. It’s proven effective against coughs and colds too and gives you a good night’s sleep.

In its classic form, the drink is served in a glass. It contains a shot of whisky (preferably malt), a teaspoon of honey and a dash of fresh lemon, topped up with boiling water poured over a silver spoon to prevent the glass from cracking. Spices can be added to personal preference: fresh ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks.

What is a Hot Toddy?

There’s no hard-and-fast answer to what’s in a hot toddy. Most people believe, the first hot toddies were simply a way to defeat cold weather or were seen as medicine from the get-go. Based on the most popular explanation, hot toddies first started to appear in Scotland in the 1700s, where publicans added a splash of boiling water to their whiskey drums to keep the ruthless northern winters away. As the story goes, publicans added sweeteners and spices to the drink to make it more palatable to the ladies. Parallel theory is an Irish medical practitioner named Todd, who recommended a hot brandy-based beverage, and a hot Indian medicinal drink, called tari, made of fermented tree sap.

How to make a Hot Toddy?

The most common ingredients in basic toddy are whiskey, lemon juice, and honey. Mix the ingredients in a mug or glass, then fill it with boiling water to the brim, stir and enjoy. With the combination of lemon and honey, it’s easy to see why toddies are known as a cure for sniffles and scratchy throats. Whiskey does seem to have a warming effect, as well as induces sleepiness, so a hot toddy is just the answer when you feel a little bit under the weather.

A quick note – for all the purported medicinal properties of hot toddies, mixing alcobev with actual medicine is not a great idea. If you’re taking prescription drugs or stronger over-the-counter medications, take it easy with the alcobev content in your toddy.

Mixing Up  

The variations on toddies are almost infinite. Throughout Scotland, hot toddies are also known as ‘Hot Whiskey,’ which implies that the whiskey is non-negotiable. But in the U.S., especially in the south, toddy-makers often use bourbon instead. Brandy is used in the Midwest and its rum, sometimes. And many don’t have any alcobev at all, like the seasonal Cranberry Hot Toddy.

The sweetener also varies, depending on the local choices. Straight white sugar is common, as is brown sugar. You’ll find hot toddies made of maple syrup in Canada and New England. Several hot toddies also include spices such as cinnamon, cloves and ginger, in different ratios and variations. Some people make their toddies with cayenne pepper, to encourage the clearing of the sinuses.

Hot Toddy and Tea  

It just seems that the only constant in a hot toddy is good old fashioned boiling water, but that is not the case, many hot toddies are made with tea. Taking the place of water and the spices, spiced teas such as chai or Earl Grey are often used. If you’re making toddy with tea, steep the tea before combining with the other ingredients.

Another way to look at hot toddy is whether you’re drinking it for pleasure or to relieve your stuffy head, it is just a hot drink with stuff you like. Start with the basic recipe and start experimenting. All over the world, Bartenders offer their own distinct recipes, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same at home!

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