Hot Toddy – A Template

December 8, 2012

The last week or so, I’ve been messing around with a template recipe for some hot toddy variations. It’s a little rough, but I got a few nice results.

Reading a few blogs, I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one drinking hot drinks these days, as the weather turns cold in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s not freezing in Taiwan yet, but it has been cold, grey, wet and miserable. Perfect Hot Toddy weather.

DSC_0892Most modern recipes for Hot Toddies are whiskey (or other spirit), honey and lemon juice, with some cinnamon and cloves, but this not what the original hot toddy was. David Wondrich explains (and the old recipe books back him up) that the Toddy (hot or cold) was a descendent of the punch, with the fruit taken out. The recipe goes something like this:

Old School Hot Toddy

2 oz spirits

1 tsp sugar

3 oz hot water

That’s it. You should warm the glass with a soak in hot water first. You can grate a little fresh nutmeg on top, too (I haven’t got any, so haven’t tried it). Brown, raw or Demerara sugar is recommended, but white or simple syrup work fine.

Dark spirits tend to work best, with Scotch, Rum, Brandy and Bourbon being favourites. I’ve tried them all before and last week (the first day it got cold) had one with Woodford Reserve that was delicious.

After that experience I wondered about varying the recipe with liqueurs for sweetener. This is something which the writer’s don’t really suggest, but I thought worth a try. Then I got fancy (my first attempt lacked something) and tried adding some extra strong flavour in small quantities. That gave me this template:

Fancy Toddy Template

2 oz spirits

1/2 oz sweet liqueur

1 tsp strong modifying agent

It could probably do with improvement, and might not be to the taste of purists, but it’s certainly fun playing around with on cold winter nights.

The drink that led me to experiment with this template was made with (sadly the last of) my bottle of Bowmore 12-Year Islay Scotch. Toddies usually call for smooth single malts, but I’d decided they’d be much nicer with a bit of a kick, and I think a smokey Islay really works. I think I had a drink called ‘Under the Tartan Sun’ (from Boozehound) in mind when I thought of Tuaca as a sweetener. Tuaca is an Italian vanilla liqueur, so you could also use Licor 43, or maybe even Galliano. I thought it still wanted a little something and I felt that was Fernet Branca, the beautiful bitter minty ameri.

Scotch Toddy

2 oz Islay Scotch

1/2 oz Tuaca

1 tsp Fernet Branca

3 oz hot water

It was great. 5/5

DSC_0875Next day (or possibly the same night) I went for brandy, and did it B & B style.

Brandy Toddy

2 oz Cognac

1/2 oz Benedictine

1/2 tsp absinthe

Also very good. 4/5

Next I tried gin, and think I have to agree that aged spirits work better in Hot Toddies. The first attempt (with Botanist, Yellow Chartreuse and Maraschino – I don’t know why I thought it might work) was just awful. The second matched some floral flavours, was alright and could be worked on.

Hendrick’s Toddy

2 oz Hendrick’s Gin

1/2 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

2 drops rose water

It was alright. The flavours matched nicely, but it was rather thin. 3/5

Next was rum. I started with the high-proof Bundaberg OP and realised that you can’t use high-proof spirits (or too much spirits) in Hot Toddies. The evaporating fumes make it impossible to drink for a couple of minutes. I had to use my only other aged rum at the moment, Havana Club Especial. It was still a great drink, but I think a more full-bodied sweeter rum would have been better. Having never made Tiki drinks I was also not sure about the (Fees) Falernum. Really, I just threw it in for the hell of it. I was, perhaps, forcing things to fit the template. But it ended up really improving the drink, so why not?

Rum Toddy

2 oz dark rum

1/2 oz Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

1-2 tsp Falernum

Great. It only misses out on 5 stars because I think a more suited rum would have been better 4.5/5

Next I tried Calvados, which is true apple brandy (that is not a liqueur called brandy, but a distillate made from apples). I think I was reaching for things to match it with, but the Chartreuse more or less worked, and I think Angostura suits Calvados. I really wanted to try it with Peach Liqueur, but didn’t have any. The result was fairly nice, but nothing special.

Calvados Toddy

2 oz apple brandy

1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

O.K. 3/5

Finally I tried a toddy with Genever – the Dutch ancestor of gin, and a bit of a favourite of mine, although I never really know what to mix it with. The ingredients I ended up with – Cynar artichoke liqueur and rhubarb bitters – were a weird match, and though I really liked it, I’m not sure that many other people would.

Genever Toddy

2 oz Genever

1/2 oz Cynar

1 dash rhubarb bitters (Fees)

I liked it, but doubt it would have broad appeal, so 3.5/5.

And that’s it. I can’t really say that any of these are better than plain Woodford Reserve Bourbon with sugar, but it’s good to have a variety. Do you have any favourite toddy recipes?

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26 Responses to “Hot Toddy – A Template”

  1. benedictchapman Says:

    Cold weather? At this time of year?

    A couple of drinks that I sometimes try when it’s cold are the whiskey mac (whiskey and ginger wine) and the rusty nail (scotch and Drambuie). Perhaps they could be toddified?

    • theboolion Says:

      It’s a freezing 14 degrees now. Ok that might not seem like much to you guys down under, but it’s a nasty damp chill.

      I don’t doubt that the Rusty Nail would make a good Toddy. I love Drambuie. I don’t have any, but it’s on my short-list. If I had had it, it would have been my first choice for the Scotch, I suppose, but actually, the Tuaca was a surprisingly good match. I have to buy some more Scotch and try it again.

      I don’t have ginger wine. Do you mean something like Stones? I’ve seen that here. I might get some sometime.

  2. putneyfarm Says:

    Great post…like the template. Will try with scotch and use aged jamaican rum…

    • theboolion Says:

      I’d love to know what you think. I reckon the rum one would be great with something like the Planter’s Gold Pyrat XO, or even Ron Zacapa 23-year. I have to get those some time, but they’re very expensive.

  3. Seamus Says:

    I like to add a piece of lemon peel to a whiskey or rum toddy.

    Not exactly a toddy, but gin and hot milk is also good, maybe with orgeat as the sweetener, and a dash of bitters.

    • theboolion Says:

      I remember reading your blog post on gin and milk, and it’s something that I’ve been meaning to try for ages, but never have milk in the fridge. No orgeat though. I was going to make some, but it seemed very fiddly for something that I would probably hardly ever use.

      I should try lemon peel in the Woodford Reserve toddy. I sort of made a ‘no-citrus’ rule for my toddy experiments. I was trying to avoid that direction. Not quite sure why, but I think it makes it a very different drink from what my template was focusing on. But with a simple sugar and whiskey toddy, I can see the lemon twist working nicely.

      • benedictchapman Says:

        Get some orgeat. It would give you very interesting options with your toddies. And you can use the rest of it up in summer in your mai tais.

  4. theboolion Says:

    Well, there may be a place where I can buy some, or I could try making it.

    But no Mai Tais – I don’t have the right kind of rums, yet.

    • JFL Says:

      It’s worth the effort to make orgeat at home, blows away even the best premade. Some Rum subbing in Mai Tai’s is okay. But it’s worth it to seek out the right rums. Still orgeat is a great tool for all kinds of cocktails.

  5. putneyfarm Says:

    Made the aged rum toddy w/ Appleton 12yr. Very good. With the Chambord, falernum and a lemon twist it tasted a bit like Chamomile tea….


  6. [...] it’s black and mean. I took a Scotch Toddy I made a couple of weeks ago and amped up the [...]

  7. SlowRain Says:

    I tried a Hot Toddy with 1tsp brown sugar, juice from 1/4 of a lemon, 1oz. Havana Club Anejo Especial, and hot water to fill a 225ml mug. Not bad, but a bit weak in flavor. Maybe less water next time.

    • theboolion Says:

      Yeah, maybe less. Too much water seems to not only make it wekaer from an alcohol-content point fo view, but also thin it out too much.

      • SlowRain Says:

        I’m fighting off a mild cold, so I tried another one last night. I kept the lemon the same, but used 2tsps brown sugar, 1.5oz. rum, and a cinnamon stick. Much better. I’m going to see if I can get some cloves and allspice. Then I’ll also be able to try Hot Buttered Rum.

  8. theboolion Says:

    These hot drinks are great in winter when you’r feeling under the weather. I can seehow two teaspoons of brown sugar could help. As long as it’s not too sweet, it can add body. You can get whole cloves at baking supply stores, and they last forever as you usually only use two or three. I haven’t tried allspice, as I don’t even knwo what it looks like or how to say it in Chinese, so I have no idea if it’s available in Taiwan or not.

    • SlowRain Says:

      Whole allspice is notoriously difficult to find here.

      I tried the cloves, but they didn’t really work out for me.

      I settled on 2 packed teaspoons of brown sugar, the juice from 1/4 of a lemon, 1.5oz of Havana Club Anejo Especial, less than 1/4 of a cinnamon stick, and hot water to top off a 225ml mug. I’m a little generous with the sugar, otherwise the lemon makes it too sour, and I take the cinnamon stick out as soon as the Hot Toddy is cool enough to sip.

      I’ll try some other variations when I build up my little collection of bottles.


  9. [...] Hot Toddy – A Template (theboolion.wordpress.com) [...]

  10. Stormy Arthur Says:

    I know I’m commenting on this a bit late but…
    With calvados maple syrup and walnut bitters do wonders for a hot toddy. Pechauds matches calvados better then angostura.
    For scotch lyles golden syrup is a great sweetener. Benedictine also matches well with the more evil tasting single malts.


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