The hot toddy is a classic winter drink, and it’s perfect for everything from warming up after a day of skiing to soothing your throat if you have a cold.
In its most basic form, a hot toddy is made with either whiskey or bourbon, hot water, honey, and lemon juice. It’s a simple cocktail, but it has long provided artistically inclined bartenders inspiration for other warming beverages. In other words, the hot toddy is endlessly customizable.
Wondering how to spice up your next toddy? We asked a handful of top mixologists to provide their spin on the classic drink. Here are six modern versions you can make at home.
Twists on the Classic Hot Toddy
1. Cuba Libre Toddy
While hot toddies are believed to have originated in India, this bevy from master mixologist Anthony Baker has a distinctly Cuban twist.
“I was inspired to do this recipe because we all enjoy soda flavors in cold drinks during the warm months, so I felt we could still enjoy these flavors of cola and root beer in a cocktail during the winter months as well,” he tells Men’s Journal.
If you want to make this an even more interesting cocktail, you can add a dash of vanilla extract or cherry liqueur (or both).
- ½ oz Liber & Co Sugarcane Kola Syrup
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz Papa’s Pilar Rum (optional)
- 1 cup Stewart’s Root Beer Spiked Seltzer (boiling hot)
- Lime and/or cherry for garnish
Instructions: Combine kola syrup, lime, and rum in a coffee mug. Empty a can of Stewart’s Root Beer Spiked Seltzer into a kettle and bring it to a boil, then add it to the mug with the other ingredients. Stir and garnish with lime and/or a cherry.
2. Honey Meets Tea Toddy
For his variation, he replaces the whiskey with Barr Hill gin, which is made with raw honey and provides excellent golden straw, honey, and pine flavor notes. Apple cider spiced honey amplifies the flavors of pine and honey even more, and the rooibos tea brings in a natural sweetness and nuttiness.
“All in all, it combines into a delicious seasonal toddy that will warm your hands as well as your soul,” he says.
Ingredients for Apple Cider Honey:
- 2 oz honey
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 pinch allspice
- 1 pinch cardamom
- Orange peels
Ingredients for Honey Meets Tea Toddy:
- 1½ oz Barr Hill Gin
- ¾ oz apple cider honey
- ¼ oz lemon juice
- 4 oz rooibos tea
- Star anise and cinnamon stick for garnish
Instructions for Apple Cider Honey: Combine honey with 1 oz water in a sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Stir until honey and water have mixed together completely. Once mixed, remove from heat and add a pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom, as well as a couple of orange peels. Stir mixture and cover pot. Let sit for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture, place in a container, and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 weeks.
Instructions for Honey Meets Tea Toddy: Combine ingredients in a tea or coffee cup and stir with a cinnamon stick. With a lighter, light a star anise on fire, blow it out, and drop it into the toddy. If the drink is too sweet, add more lemon juice.
3. Hot Java Toddy
For a hot toddy with a bit of a kick, try this one from Lucinda Sterling of Middle Branch and Seaborne in New York City. The Town Branch bourbon “edges on earthy and vanilla and that to me pairs well with the chicory,” she says. “Also, coffee liqueur can add sweetness and bring out the terroir in the bourbon.”
- 1½ oz Town Branch Bourbon
- ½ oz fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz chicory syrup
- ½ oz coffee liqueur
- 5 oz hot water
- Cinnamon stick and lemon wedge
Instructions: Combine bourbon, lemon, chicory syrup, and coffee liqueur in a mug. In a kettle, bring water to a boil. Add hot water to mug and stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon wedge.
4. Brother Wolf Bombardino
Jessica “Rabbit” King of Brother Wolf in Knoxville, TN serves a toddy with a not-so-classic Italian twist. In the Alps region of Italy, there’s an aprés-ski cocktail called the Bombardino that’s made with Italian brandy and either eggnog or an egg-based Dutch liqueur called Advocaat.
“We prepare our Bombardino with house-made eggnog, Pierre Ferrand cognac, and the addition of Italian amari, which adds depth and complexity,” King says. “This flavor profile ticks every box for anyone seeking respite from the season’s chills: a slightly sweet custard flavor from the nog, the balance of bitter elements derived from the herbs, roots, and spices from the amari, and the warming kick of cognac that leaves the drinker relaxed and satisfied.”
- 1½ oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula
- ¾ oz Amaro Montenegro
- ¼ oz Fernet Branca
- Whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish
Instructions: In a small pan, heat eggnog on medium-low until it reaches 160ºF. (Don’t boil the eggnog.) Once heated, measure out 3 oz eggnog, combine with remaining ingredients in a mug, and gently stir. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.
5. Toddy Szn
For a roasty, toasty, not overly sweet toddy that’s full of flavor, consider this one from Corey Moszer of The Lucky Accomplice in St. Louis, MO.
“We don’t use honey in our hot toddy spin, so the sweetness comes from the spirits and whole spices themselves,” Moszer says. “The sweetness and spice of the Big O Ginger Liqueur and herbal honey-like yellow chartreuse set the tone, and the Drambuie adds depth and accentuates the other flavors.”
- 1¼ oz Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
- ¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse
- ¾ oz Big O Ginger Liqueur
- ¼ oz Drambuie
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 orange peel
- 1 star anise pod pierced with cloves
- 4 oz hot water with lemon
- Dash Angostura bitters
- Dash cinnamon tincture
Instructions: Fill a mug with bourbon, Yellow Chartreuse, Big O Liqueur, Drambuie, star anise pierced with clove, orange peel, and a cinnamon stick. With a flame, light the spirits and spices on fire to burn off some alcohol and accentuate the flavors. Extinguish flame with lemon-infused water. Finish with a dash of Angostura bitters and a dash of cinnamon tincture and blend together.
6. Toasty Toddy
Back in the day, Bacardi senior corporate mixologist Brittney Olsen’s coffee shop drink of choice was a dirty chai. That caffeinated drink served as inspiration for this boozy one.
“Mixing Stillhouse Black Bourbon, which is mellowed in roasted small-batch coffee beans, with chai and adding a toasted coconut syrup plays with those familiar flavors and is a fun riff on the classic toddy,” she says.
Toasted Coconut Syrup Ingredients:
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
Toasty Toddy Ingredients:
- 1½ oz Stillhouse Black Bourbon
- ¾ oz toasted coconut syrup
- 6 oz hot chai tea
- 2 dashes black walnut bitters (optional)
- Orange peel wrapped around cinnamon stick for garnish
Toasted Coconut Syrup Instructions: Toast coconut flakes in a dry saucepan over medium heat until fragrant and just starting to brown (watch carefully as they burn quickly). Add water and sugar. Heat until sugar dissolves. Let mixture cool to room temperature and pour through a fine strainer into a container.
Toasty Toddy Instructions: Make a cup of hot chai tea and pour six ounces into a mug. Add toasted coconut syrup and Stillhouse Black Bourbon. Add two dashes of black walnut bitters if using. Stir. Garnish with orange peel and cinnamon stick.
7. Stockyards in Ashes
While Anchorage, AK-based mixologist Cory Leicester said his creation is “perfect for cold, dark Alaskan winter nights,” you don’t have to live somewhere frigid to enjoy it. This recipe balances the sweetness of brandy and fig jam, the acidity of the apple cider, and the smokiness of black tea to create a cozy and complex drink.
- 2 oz Copper and Kings Butchertown brandy
- 1 oz apple cider
- 2 tsp fig jam
- 2 dashes Strongwater Golden bitters
- 1 cup lapsang souchong black tea
- Apple slices and a fig for garnish
Instructions: Combine brandy, apple cider, fig jam, and bitters in a coffee mug. Prepare black tea. Once steeped, stir tea into coffee mug. Garnish with a fan of apple slices and a fig.
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