Four Hot Toddy Recipes to Warm You This Winter

Warm whiskey, honey, tea, even cloves—the hot toddy is the ultimate hot, boozy beverage. The classic recipe is like a steamy cousin to the old-fashioned. But these days, bartenders add citrus, apple cider, and warming spices to the mix. 

To create her hot toddy, Hillary Coley of Dominion Tea says she looked back at history. “The hot toddy comes to life in Britain but originates out of India,” she says. “If you go back into the cookbooks, the drink was made with Indian tea. But the Scots put whiskey in it, since tea was more expensive.” 

In Kerala, a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, the word “toddy” refers to palm wine from the coconut tree. The earliest European mention of hot toddies was in 1786, describing the concoction as a treatment for cold symptoms. One element is essential: start with a hot glass. 

We’ve got a few recipes, both boozy and zero-proof, to make at home. 

Chowning’s Tavern Hot Toddy

At Colonial Williamsburg’s historic taverns, hot toddies turn up on menus every autumn. This hot toddy is served at Josiah Chowning’s and uses Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon.

1 Earl Grey tea bag

1.5 oz. Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon

2 oz. citrus honey lavender simple syrup (see below)

5 oz. hot water

Lemon slice

Cinnamon stick

Citrus Honey Lavender Simple Syrup 

½ cup water

1 cup honey

1 oz. lemon juice

3 tablespoons lavender

Mix honey, lemon juice, and lavender. Add hot water, then let cool down fully. Strain syrup. Steep Earl Grey tea in your favorite cup or mug. Add bourbon and simple syrup. 
Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Classic Hot Toddy

The Barketts, owners of 1772 Rooftop on Main, are from Oxford, Mississippi, where the Ole Miss collegiate chant hails hot toddies. The Fincastle hangout features a bar that’s installed inside a V-tail Bonanza airplane. General manager Ian Burnett crafts a traditional hot toddy using a recipe that features Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon.

Start with a piping hot coffee cup

1 cup of hot water

2 oz. of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

1 oz. local honey Lemon wheel to garnish

Add water, bourbon, and honey to a piping hot tea cup.

Garnish with a lemon wheel and enjoy.

Dominion Tea Hot Toddy

Dominion Tea’s Tasting Room in Purcellville is a hot spot for sampling a variety of teas. To make their caffeine and alcohol-free Hot Toddy Tea, owner Hillary Coley uses honeybush tea, a caffeine-free plant from South Africa. “It’s slightly sweeter, brews dark orange, and we blend it with cinnamon, cloves, and citrus,” says Coley, who sells her special tea blend on-site.  

1 bag of tea blend (3 g. per 8 oz. water)

Slice or two of lemon peel Honey (to taste)

Pinch of warming spices such as cinnamon or dried ginger

Cinnamon stick to garnish

Lemon wheel to garnish

Choose your best teacup and steep ingredients to taste.

Garnish with a lemon wheel and cinnamon stick.

Monkey in a Hot Tub

At Vault & Cellar in Middletown, mixologist Cami Buracker constructs her hot toddy using Monkey Shoulder Scotch because “the base has orange notes,” she says. “It’s not too malty and goes nice in cocktails.” To make ginger syrup in-house, she recommends using “whatever amount of ginger your heart desires.” 

1 oz. homemade ginger simple syrup (see below)

1.5 oz. Monkey Shoulder Scotch

½ oz. Bitterman’s Burlesque Bitters

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

Orange or lemon peel for garnish

Ginger Simple Syrup

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

Fresh ginger, thinly sliced

To make ginger syrup, add ½ cup of water to ½ cup sugar. Dissolve the mixture in a saucepan, then add fresh ginger to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes, then let steep for one hour. Strain. Stir in Scotch, bitters, and fresh lemon juice and pour into a well-loved hot toddy cup. Garnish with a citrus twist.

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