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Toddies & Hot Drinks

Despite what the modern medical profession knows to be true, many pre-Prohibition cocktails received a boost for their “health benefits.” Bitters originated as a healing tonic; the term julep traces its etymology to a syrup that was used to mask the flavor of medicine. And for some reason, many doctors seemed to believe that any drink served hot, regardless of the contents, was bound to make any unwell person feel better.

The toddy is among those concoctions that were called upon, though it can be served hot or cold. By definition it is a soothing combination of water, spirits, sugar, and spices, but the venerable hot toddy usually specifically calls for a darker spirit like whiskey. As with many old-recipe cocktails, its history is somewhat murky, though many sources trace its origins to Scotland, where it was apparently used to make Scotch whisky more palatable to women.

When it comes to holiday entertaining in cooler climates, a hot drink will make every guest feel instantly comfortable. Of course, the therapeutic benefits of toddies and the like might be questionable, but the drinks certainly provide an antidote to the chill of winter.


By Jerry Thomas, circa 1862

1 tbsp. superfine sugar

4 oz. boiling water

2 oz. apple brandy


1 small baked apple

Dissolve sugar in hot water in a preheated tempered glass. Add brandy and baked apple. Stir and serve, garnished with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

(Note: Substitute sugar with honey, maple syrup, or muscovado sugar to deliver a more intense flavor.)


By Armando Rosario

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 stick cinnamon

2 quarter-sized slices fresh ginger

4 oz. boiling water

2 oz. cachaça

Combine juice, sugar, and spices in a preheated tempered glass or mug; stir un-til sugar is dissolved. Add

boiling water and room-temperature cachaça; stir. Garnish with orange and lemon slices pierced with cloves.


By David Nepove

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

4 oz. hot black tea (preferably Assam or Pu-Erh)

Honey to taste

11/2 oz. Islay-style single-malt Scotch

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum liqueur

Combine juice, tea (about 180 degrees), and honey in a preheated tempered glass; stir until honey is dissolved. Add liquors, stir, and serve. Garnish with vanilla bean and twisted lemon peel.

(Note: Substitute Scotch High-lands malt or Irish whiskey for the Islay-style single malt for a lighter flavor.)

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