While we can’t (scientifically) attest to the famed Hot Toddy being a cold remedy, we can stand behind its warm deliciousness. Traditionally composed of whisky, hot water, honey and lemon (or spices), this simple hot cocktail has been around for a few centuries and continues to delight. With only a handful of ingredients, there’s plenty of room for flavor variations—whether that be adding in something extra, changing the base spirit or playing with the components all together (but keeping the gist of it intact). The following six represent our fall favorites and make for a nice treat when the temperatures are on the decline. They vary in complexity, but even the most challenging ones are worth a try at home—including a concoction you have to (safely) light on fire.
Three Little Birds
Created by Dana Richardson of Tag Restaurant in Denver, this tweaked version of the typically chilled Three Little Birds invokes the whisky-based Hot Toddy essence, while incorporating both mint tea and hot apple cider. Celebrating both The Famous Grouse and the blended scotch’s custom-made batch of The Owl’s Brew (a hot tea specifically created for cocktails), the drink is distinct and spiced but entirely refreshing.
1.25 oz The Famous Grouse
1 cup Owl’s Brew The Famous Mint Tea (hot)
1 cup hot apple cider
.25 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz custom autumn spice simple syrup*
.5 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch
1 oz barspoon Fernet Branca
Heat a cup of The Owl’s Brew Famous Mint Tea and a cup of apple cider on the stove or in a kettle. Build remaining cocktail ingredients into bar coffee mug. Once Owl’s Brew Tea and apple cider come to a boil, pour 1 oz of the tea and 1 oz of the apple cider on top of spirits ingredients in mug. Garnish with four apple slices fanned over a lemon wheel. *To make your own autumn spice simple syrup, add one cup of sugar to one cup of water and bring to a boil. Then add ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground cloves, eight allspice berries and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. Grate one nutmeg, and then allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes before straining the syrup.
Yuzu Toddy Cocktail
Bourbon has its merits when replacing a scotch whisky in a hot toddy (most notable is the vanilla oakiness the spirit lends). Couple that with yuzu and Applejack Brand and you’ve got an exceptional, bright Yuzu Toddy Cocktail. While it might seem like an undertaking to assemble, or even shopping for all the ingredients, this is a drink that impresses guests as much as it does the palate.
1 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
2 heaping bar spoons of yuzu honey*
.75 oz Laird’s® Applejack Brandy
.5 oz yuzu juice
5 oz hot water
1/4 cup yuzu rind**
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
10 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons pectin
2 tablespoons yuzu juice
Add water and yuzu rind and bring to a simmer. Mix 100 grams of sugar and pectin. Add to water and rind. Bring to a boil. Add the honey, the remaining sugar and glucose. Heat until nappe consistency. To test, coat the back of a spoon and make a trail across with your finger. The line should hold its shape. Add citric acid with equal parts water. Cook for 30 seconds to evaporate excess water and chill. To assemble the drink, mix the yuzu honey, Maker’s Mark, Lairds Applejack brandy, yuzu juice and hot water.
Keeping with bourbon as the base spirit, but introducing Campari to the mix, Erick Castro of NYC’s Boilermaker developed the Babbo’s Toddy. It’s easy to make but consistently surprising with every sip. The botanicals from the Campari flourish in the face of the 101 proof bourbon, so there’s spice and a kick, all balanced out with vermouth and boiling water.
.5 oz Campari
.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
.75 oz cinnamon syrup*
Build ingredients into warm 8.5 oz mug and top with boiling water. Garnish with an orange slice. *To make cinnamon simple syrup, bring four cinnamon sticks, one cup sugar and one cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.
Our most traditional recipe happens to incorporate one subtle tweak. While this is a pretty standard Hot Toddy cocktail, we employed Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey. The fact of the matter remains, Irish whiskey tastes different and if you’re not a fan of a Hot Toddy as is, switching out a blended scotch with the lighter Irish whiskey version makes for an interesting entry point.
1 oz Tullamore Dew
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz hot water
First warm a mug with hot water, then discard and combine ingredients above. Stir before serving. Additionally, a bit of fresh ginger can be added for a bit of a bite.
Hot Spice Grog
Theatricality aside, this is a drink that tastes like none other—and yes, it must be lit on fire. Developed by the team at Dewar’s, the Hot Spice Grog complements the whisky with sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and a burst of spice.
1 oz Dewar’s 12 Blended Scotch Whisky
1 oz Martini & Rossi Rosso sweet vermouth
.25 oz maraschino liqueur
1 dash aromatic bitters
.5 oz honey
.75 oz cloves
.75 oz star anise
lemon and orange zest
Obtain two large metal mugs. In one, add Dewar’s 12, Martini & Rossi Rosso, maraschino liqueur, and honey syrup; in the second mug, add the citrus peels and spices. Ignite the liquid’s surface and carefully toss the hot mixture back and forth between the mugs a few times—it should look like you’re pouring a liquid stream of fire. Extinguish the flames, add the maraschino liqueur, and pour into a teacup.
A sheer delight, the Canelazo is a South American variation on the Hot Toddy with rum as the base spirit (though, many prefer Aguardiente). This is a batch drink with a bit of prep time. Hailing from the highlands around the Andes Mountains, it definitely makes for a rich fall to winter cocktail. There’s cinnamon and citrus and just enough sweetness.
3 cups water
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
juice of one lime
pinch of salt
1 tsp whole cloves
4-6 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup orange juice
4 oz (or more) spiced rum
Bring the water, sugar, lime juice, salt, cinnamon sticks and cloves to a boil, and let simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice. Add rum to taste and reheat (but do not bring to a boil). Strain and serve hot.
Images courtesy of respective brands