hot toddy

I recently discovered the merits of the hot toddy. I started drinking them over the December holidays after I woke up one morning with a head cold and sore throat. Although I was skeptical that this centuries old hot drink would help me feel better than a regular cup of tea, I was happy to sip something a little different. I became a convert to its medicinal advantages, however, when after a few sips the rough soreness in my throat dissipated while warmth radiated throughout my body. I’m not kidding here. That hot toddy really did make me feel remarkably better.

The hot toddy was supposedly created when tea came to Scotland, and, as you might expect, the Scots felt the need to add a little of their mother’s milk — that is whisky — to the brew. Since then, hot toddies have become synonymous with the idea of body-warming goodness on cold days. In addition to being hailed as a cold and flu remedy, hot toddies are said to also cure insomnia, which make sense to me.

Some people make hot toddies with tea, a sweetener, and lemon, along with whisky, brandy, bourbon, or rum. I like using either black tea or chamomile as I think the flavors nicely accent the drink, but you can really use any type of tea you like, or just leave it out all together. I’ve also made an alcohol free hot toddy for my daughters, which is an option if you’re making the drink for children or prefer yours without alcohol.

And, speaking of the alcohol, I’ve been using brandy simply because the Scotch whisky I have on hand is expensive and so I want to enjoy it on its own. I also use brandy because it has a natural sweetness that lends itself nicely to honey and lemon in the drink. Whisky, however, is the historical choice, so if you have some and aren’t as stingy as I am, you should give it a try. Rum and bourbon are also an option, although I haven’t tried them.

So whether you’re sick, can’t fall asleep, or just chilly and in need of a warm drink that will exude heat throughout your body, a hot toddy may just do the trick.

Hot Toddy

Makes one cup

1 cup hot tea
1 shot brandy, whisky, bourbon or rum
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey

1. Make a cup of tea the way you like it (that is, strong or weak and with whatever type of tea leaves you like).
2. Stir in the alcohol, lemon juice and honey.
3. Enjoy

Related BAB Posts:
Drunkard, Heal Thyself
Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold

The Hot Toddy 26 January,2009Denise Santoro Lincoln

  • I like making my Hot Toddy with Jameson. I’m surprised that many bartenders are a little fuzzy on the Hot Toddy concept and they like to say, we don’t have the makings for this drink. But if I know they can do black tea with honey and lemon….it’s only a matter of adding my shot of whiskey. That’s it. Good stuff.

  • This looks great, Denise. I’ve been using Stephanie’s recipe for Hot Toddies for years — the addition of tea is interesting …

  • A classic! An alcoholic comfort food… I’d like to add cloves studded in a lemon wedge or wheel to this recipe. Or a cinnamon stick! Perfect for a winter’s eve.


Denise Santoro Lincoln

I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise’s Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.

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