Keeping warm with a Hot Toddy

The weather so far has yet to feel quite like winter in South Texas. But nonetheless, ’tis the season for a winter classic – the Hot Toddy.

First – the name. “Toddy” comes from the name of a drink in India made by fermenting the sap of the toddy palm. The British ruled India in those days and stole the name. But the drink itself that we now know as the Hot Toddy comes from Scottosh tradition. They made a cold remedy of whiskey, hot water, honey, and spices.

Even in its present form (see recipe below) it can be arguably used to treat a cold or flu – “the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.” (from ‘How to Drink’ by Victoria Moore).

When the Hot Toddy made its way to the American colonies, whiskey was not in ample supply, so they often substituted homemade brandy or rum from the Caribbean. The revolutionaries called the drink “liquid courage” and drank it to prepare for battle.

Today, you don’t need to fight a war or a cold to enjoy a Hot Toddy on a chilly night.

The Classic Hot Toddy (the perfect place to start)
3/4 cup water
1-1/2 oz whiskey (I like Maker’s Mark or Weller’s)
2 to 3 tsps honey
2 to 3 tsps lemon juice
1 lemon round
1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Bring the water to a boil and pour into a mug. Add the whiskey, honey, and lemon juice into the water.  Stir until the honey completely dissolves. You might try adding a lesser amount of honey and lemon juice and add more until you get the right ratio for your taste. Garnish with the lemon round and cinnamon stick.

The classic recipe can be changed up by substituting for the whiskey, either brandy or dark/spiced rum. Some people add spices such as sliced apples, fresh ginger, whole cloves or anise. And you can even steep a tea bag in the water before adding the other ingredients.