Every now and again, you come upon a drink that bears a name so distinctive it evokes a very specific emotional response. Such is the case with the hot toddy; a delicious drink that, if perfect, thrills the taste buds and warms you up on a cold winter evening.
Of course, there are other drinks to help keep you warm if you’re not into the hot toddy. But there’s just something about the hot toddy name that makes you feel good all over. You don’t even have to necessarily drink one.
The Starting Point
Making the perfect hot toddy starts with the right attitude. Remember: This isn’t just any old alcoholic beverage you slap together carelessly while trying desperately to impress your friends with lame jokes. It is a drink that requires care, creativity, and the sophistication of James Bond in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Minus the gunfire, of course.
A proper hot Toddy begins with whiskey, rum, or brandy. According to the Guardian, one of the more recognized authorities in U.K. media, whisky is the preferred starting point for those who insist that the hot toddy originated in Scotland. Should you agree with that sentiment, reference the James Bond comment above.
The Sweetener and Spices
The basic recipe for a hot toddy, according to Wonderland Kitchen, is simple: alcohol, sugar, and hot water. But adding plain granulated sugar to an alcoholic beverage is anathema to more than one hot toddy snob. Therefore, we recommend you find something a little more sophisticated if you’ll be preparing your drink in front of guests.
Honey makes a good choice if you’re starting with whiskey. Other options include molasses, sweetened apple juice, or even caramel. The thing to remember about the sweeteners is that some people prefer toddies with extra spice or a contrast of sour. If you plan to use spices or citrus, choose your sweeteners wisely.
Combining It All Together
Some would argue that the process of combining the ingredients is where the art of perfecting the hot toddy comes into play. Purists love to begin with hot water, to which is added the alcohol, sweetener, spices, and sour―in that order.
On the other hand, there are those who choose to infuse their spices with their hot water prior to adding the alcohol and sweetener. We’re not exactly sure how infusing is different from mixing, but it sounds very hot toddy-ish. Whatever your order of combination, just be sure to go slowly and enjoy the moment.
The Perfect Recipe
By now you’ve probably realized there’s no single recipe that defines what a hot toddy is. So how do you perfect making one? By all accounts, it seems to be nothing more than appearance and personal taste. If you can make a toddy taste good, and look really good making it, you’re a winner.
We’ve looked at a couple of recipes and it seems to us there really is no wrong way to make a hot toddy as long as it is, indeed, hot. There are people who make cold hot toddies, but they appear to be suffering from an inner conflict for which alcohol is probably not the solution.
If it’s both cold and hot, wouldn’t it be lukewarm? Perhaps. But you couldn’t call it a lukewarm toddy or no one would drink it. Keep it hot and you’ll avoid all the trouble.
Other Drinks to Keep You Warm
At the start of this article, we mentioned there are other drinks to keep you warm if you’re not into the hot toddy. Therefore, we can’t finish things up without talking about some of them. Rest assured that there are plenty of other choices for you to select from. Here are a few:
Irish Whisky and Coffee―It’s been said that when an Irishman isn’t drinking Guinness, he’s drinking an Irish whisky and coffee cocktail. We don’t know if that’s true, seeing as how we’ve never found an Irishman sober enough to answer the question. Nonetheless, this hot cocktail is a favorite on the Emerald Island.
Apple Cider and Rum―If you like apples and cinnamon together, you can try the traditional apple cider and rum cocktail. Some people even go so far as to add a little butter, in the same vein as the classic holiday hot buttered rum drink. It’s entirely up to you, but apple cider and butter seem to go together about as well as a married man and his mother-in-law.
Kahlua and Hot Chocolate―To be totally honest, this drink doesn’t even qualify as a cocktail recipe. You’re just mixing regular hot cocoa with Kahlua. The only thing you need to be worried about is whether or not you want your cocoa with or without marshmallows. Oh, and don’t forget the whipped cream on top.
Now that we’ve given you several options from which to choose, all that’s left to do is wait until it gets cold out. As soon as the temperature drops below your comfort level, feel free to mix up your toddy, or other favorite drink, curl up under a warm blanket, and enjoy.
Just remember this: Although alcoholic drinks can make you feel warm, they actually cause a slight drop in your core temperature. Make sure to drink responsibly and find other means to keep yourself really warm.