Recipe: The Hot Toddy

Recipe: The Hot Toddy

Thought to have been invented in Scotland in the 1700's, countless people the world over have fixed themselves a Hot Toddy when they were under the weather, usually while in cold weather.

Even though it is almost spring in the northern hemisphere, this seems to be a timely recipe since there are a lot of cold, flu, virus and other things going around this year, to put it mildly. This time-tested drink will soothe you, if nothing else.

There was never an exact recipe, make it the way you enjoy it best, but there are basic ingredients.

HOT TODDY – 1 Glass Traditional Recipe

2 ounces of your favorite whiskey

1 ounce of organic lemon juice (or non-organic, but preferably from a fresh lemon)

2-3 slices of fresh lemon

5 Cloves (stick them into the lemon peel)

1 Tablespoon of non-GMO honey of your choice

4-6 ounces purified water

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Use a heatproof glass or a tea mug. Pour in the whiskey, honey, lemon juice and clove-infused lemon slices. Stir and add the freshly boiled water. Make it mild or stiff, as you please. It is always served hot and is very popular in ski lodges and cold climates, best served at home where one can enjoy it with a good book. It is best drunk shortly before retiring for the night.

This video is about 2 minutes long and is close to the traditional recipe, but he uses nutmeg instead of cloves.

There are several theories about how this famous drink got its name.

One popular story is that since Great Britain and India were trading in those days, it may have been named after an Indian palm tree sap drink. Since there’s no palm tree sap in a Hot Toddy, that seems like a stretch until you realize that according to the Hindi word “taddy” meant “beverage made from fermented palm sap” in 1610, but by 1786 the definition of a taddy was a “beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar and spices.”

Another popular origin story is a tale of Irish doctor, Robert Bentley Todd, who is said to have prescribed hot brandy, cinnamon and sugar water to his patients. The truth may be a blend of both stories, since doctors would have heard about Hot Toddies from India and prescribed them to ailing patients.

The Hot Toddy had taken on dazzling proportions by the mid-19th century and was considered a “cure all” for getting rid of colds according to the Burlington Free Press in 1837.

Nowadays, there are as many versions of the Hot Toddy as there are alcoholic beverages. Similar to the iconic reputation of chicken soup, the Hot Toddy is part of the folk history of food and drink, concoctions considered medicinal whether they are or not, that make us feel good over centuries of collective recipe sharing.  

On a personal note, whenever my father got the flu, he drank two hot toddies back to back, piled on a ton of blankets so he’d “sweat it out” and took to his bed. He always managed to rid himself of the flu within 48 hours. Worked like a charm!


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