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As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While the Hot Toddy often acts as a blank canvas for whatever variety of boozy ingredients its creator feels like customizing it with, the basic recipe is still a surefire classic to start experimenting with warm cocktails.

What is a Hot Toddy?

A hot toddy is a warm, boozy beverage that mixes a hot base (in this case it’s warm lemon water) with some type of liquor. In this recipe, we stuck with the classic hot water, lemon, honey and your choice of whiskey, brandy or bourbon.

However, the hot toddy is endlessly customizable.

What are Some Riffs on the Hot Toddy?

Well, how creative do you want to get? With its simple base, the classic hot toddy lends itself to a whole host of variations.

For instance, this recipe adds saké, along with whiskey, simple syrup and various fruits and spices for a bright citrusy drink.

If you prefer your beverages on the savior or herbal side, try the Grand Street Hot Toddy Cocktail. It uses vermouth, Chamomile tea and Amaro Montenegro. For a sweeter version, try the chai hot toddy.

You can even make a whiskey cold toddy—which is really just boozy iced tea.

The bottom line: the hot toddy is a jumping off point. There’s a whole host of hot cocktails to explore.

Where Did the Hot Toddy Cocktail Come From?

The hot toddy cocktail has interesting origins that go back to India. There’s a popular Bombay alcoholic drink called tadi, which is made from fermented sugary sap from the toddy palm, according to the site Indiaphile. It’s believed that the British added nutmeg and other spices to create the drink we know today as the hot toddy. And while brown spirits are the usual choice for most toddies, in the UK, where gin is quite popular, it’s not surprising to see hot gin cocktails.

What are the Best Spirits for a Hot Toddy?

These days, when it comes to making hot toddies, it’s a flexible rubric. Maker’s Mark and Jameson are popular choices, but they’re far from your only option. Try it with rye, Bourbon, rum, or the brown spirit of your choosing.

The best whiskey to use in a hot toddy is the one you have on hand.

Are Hot Toddys Good for Colds?

Will they cure a sore throat, sinus infection or winter cold? While we don’t profess to be experts in the medicinal benefits of honey, lemon and brown liquor, this throwback remedy is known to provide relief when cold days leave you feeling a bit under the weather.

With that said, we certainly can’t claim that a hot toddy will cure your physical ailments. But we can say with great confidence nothing will warm you up after a day on the ski slopes or just being outside in the cold quite like a hot toddy will.

How to Make the Classic Hot Toddy


1½ ounce brown liquor such as brandy, whiskey or rum
1 tablespoon honey
½ ounce lemon juice
1 cup hot water
Lemon wedge, cinnamon stick and star anise, for garnish (optional)


Combine the first four ingredients into the bottom of a warmed mug. If desired, garnish with the lemon, cinnamon stick or star anise.