Before “cocktail” was the ubiquitous word for alcoholic mixed drink with some sugar added there were many terms used for the many variations, each for some marginal difference in ingredients, process, or simply geographic nomenclature. Slings, juleps, cobblers, and toddies being a few such terms.
The Hot Toddy is probably the most well known today, and is easily the most frequently included in a winter bar menu. David Wondrich categorizes toddies as drinks typically made hot, and slings as drinks typically made cold—but could have the same ingredients and process, so there is such a thing as a Cold Toddy or a Hot Sling, because you can make either by changing the temperature of the water or tea to meet your preference.[i]
Jerry Thomas was the first to write, or at least be published, on the subject of the Hot Toddy… and it’s not what we think of today.[ii] Seriously, just a wine glass of brandy, a little sugar dissolved in boiling water, combined and topped with grated nutmeg. It’s drinkable, but we’d rather have one of the variations detailed below.
Alex’s Hot Toddy (video below)
- 1 ½ oz. rye whiskey
- ½ lemon squeezed (about ½ oz. juice)
- 1 bar spoon honey
- 3-4 dashes plum bitters
- 3-4 dashes orange bitters
- 4-5 oz. Cinnamon Apple Tea
- Garnished with a Cinnamon Stick
Combine whiskey, lemon juice, honey and bitters in serving glass, stir well. Top with hot Cinnamon Apple Tea, stir vigorously again. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Jordan’s Hot Toddy
- 1 ½ oz. Bonded Bourbon
- ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
- ¾ oz. apple brandy
- ½ oz. spiced syrup[iii]
- 3-4 oz. boiling water
- Garnish with cinnamon stick and lemon peel
Combine bourbon, lemon juice, apple brandy, and spiced syrup in a glass (or mug). Top with boiling water, and give it another good stir, garnish with cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
WE LIKE IT HOT
A Hot Toddy should be HOT, and sometimes mixing boiling water or hot tea into a mixture of cool or cold liquid won’t keep it hot enough, long enough. Luckily, we have an extra step (stolen from Jeffery Morgenthaler’s blog) that helps keep your Hot Toddy from turning into a Tepid Toddy.
The technique is simple: fill a shaker tin halfway with very hot water, and build the drink sans water in a second tin nestled in the bottom shaker. Stirring the ingredients for a minute will raise the temperature to the point where we’re no longer serving cold or room temperature ingredients mixed with hot water. The now-warm drink is added to a preheated glass and finished with piping hot water.
PSA: NEVER HEAT ALCOHOL ON THE STOVE TOP. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
[iii] 1 cup water, 1 cup turbinado sugar (spices vary, but 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 anise pods, 4-5 allspice berries, 4 whole cloves turns out pretty tasty). Heat water (but keep below boiling, add spices, and stir in sugar until completely dissolved. Strain and let cool before use (if you are using it up quickly you won’t need to stain out the spices). Makes about 1 ½ cups syrup.