When the mercury starts dropping, it is inevitable that the educated tippler will turn to a classic wintertime cocktail to warm the body and the mind.

Enter the iconic Hot Toddy.

A familiar cocktail in vogue since the 18th century, this time-tested drink is a bona fide hit whenever — and wherever — there is a nip in the air.

It is believed the original term Hot Toddy may be in reference to the Tari` Tadi`, a Hindu word for a drink made from either fermented coconut milk or various tree saps with spices added. While cold or hot water was once used in this particular drink, today the Hot Toddy is always made as a hot drink.

Here’s a simple recipe to create your very own (and very delicious) Hot Toddy:

3 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon honey

5 oz boiling water

2 oz bourbon, rye, scotch, brandy, or dark rum

Freshly grated nutmeg

Orange twist

The foundation for this cocktail is a base spirit, various spices, lemon or orange twist, and hot water. One rule of thumb is to always stick to brown spirits — whiskey, rum, or brandy in particular — which equate to a more harmonious drink than their clear counterparts. Or, if you are more of the adventurous type, here are a few “spirited” suggestions.

Try switching up your base spirit to either Four Roses bourbon, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, or Hamilton Demerara rum, and follow the rest of the recipe. For the cognac fans among us, consider adding Remy VSOP as your base. All of these offer a subtle and unique addition of flavors to your palette.

Another great option for this drink is to add a variety of different spices such as cardamom or star anise. By changing from hot water to hot tea, you’ll tap into a kaleidoscope of countless flavored tea options, too.

The sign of a great cocktail has always been longevity and versatility. The Hot Toddy unquestionably has both and so much more. Cheers for a warm and toasty New Year.


About the Expert: John Christie                                   

John Christie is the director of Craft and Luxury Spirits for Young’s Market Company in Arizona. His illustrious career began in 1998 at The Arizona Baseball Club at Bank One Ballpark, where he quickly became a part of a new generation of bartenders in the area perfecting the art of classic craft cocktails. In 2004, John made the leap to head bartender at the James Hotel in Scottsdale, capturing national acclaim for his vast skills and deep knowledge of spirits and select beverages.

A successful author, storyteller, and regular contributor to numerous fine spirits and mixology publications, John’s enthusiasm and passion for the industry are revered by his peers — and appreciated by an ever-growing number of satisfied customers and guests.