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Hot Toddy: The Warm Cocktail to Comfort You Through the Holidays

Hot Toddy: The Warm Cocktail to Comfort You Through the Holidays: Alicia J. Rose

Alicia J. Rose

I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re experiencing another cold, wet December. I’m constantly amazed that people continue to visit our bars, because all I want to do, personally, is stay at home and sip a Hot Toddy until all of this blows over.

My copy of The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book lists four hot toddy recipes, and most of them are essentially the same: some sort of base spirit, a sugar cube, and some boiling water. Now, I don’t know about you, but almost nothing about that formula sounds appealing to me.

And while I tend to be the guy who insists on staying as historically accurate as possible when making classic cocktails, I have to go against tradition on this one. Toddies, to me, conjure up thoughts of lemon, honey, ginger, and spice. And I’ve realized that most people seem to have similar ideas when it comes to the Hot Toddy. At least, I’ve never gotten rave reviews from serving a mug full of whiskey and hot water, that’s for certain.

And so, over the years I’ve developed this recipe as our sort of house Toddy. The 90-proof bourbon is bold enough to cut through the other strong flavors, the balance of sweet and sour is right on point, and just a touch of allspice with orange peel really lends the drink a lot of depth. It’s easy to drink, and satisfies those winter cravings for something hot and spicy. I’ll be making more than a few of these at home this holiday week.

Hot Toddy

1½ oz. bourbon
1 oz. ginger-honey syrup*
¾ oz. lemon juice
1 tsp allspice liqueur or pimento dram
3 oz. boiling water

Combine bourbon, ginger syrup, lemon juice and allspice or pimento liqueur in preheated mug and top with boiling water. Garnish with orange peel.

*To make ginger-honey syrup, combine equal parts (by volume) rough-chopped ginger, boiling water and honey in a blender. Purée ingredients until mixture is smooth, then strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth.


Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.


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