Hot Toddy Recipe
Dec 09, 2019, Updated Jan 18, 2024
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The Hot Toddy is the ultimate warming cocktail on a cold wintery night. It’s a classic cocktail made with hot water, whiskey, honey, and fresh lemon juice. It’s simple, delicious, and citrusy.
The Hot Toddy is a centuries-old cocktail that has a reputation for being a therapeutic cold remedy. Hot water, lemon, and honey are believed to provide relief from minor cough and cold symptoms. You can read more about that here. As for the whiskey, it should probably be reserved for when you’re feeling back to yourself.
Sick or not, it’s a great drink for any occasion and something I love to sip on a cold winter night as a nightcap. If you like warm cocktails, also try my Irish Coffee recipe. For similar citrusy cocktails, try the Whiskey Sour or the Brown Derby!
Table of Contents
Why I Love This Recipe
The Hot toddy is unique because it’s primarily a water-based cocktail. Honey, lemon, and hot water alone may sound bland, but the bourbon and spices help to transform this simple concoction into something special.
Adding star anise, cinnamon stick, and whole cloves will add a complimentary flavor and aroma that will remind you of hot apple cider. It’s tart, sweet, citrusy, and warming.
- Very hot water: water should be nearly boiling as it will cool a bit when adding other ingredients. I use my tea kettle.
- Bourbon, rye, or Applejack brandy: any of these are great options for this cocktail. I prefer bourbon thanks to the natural sweetness.
- honey: the honey balances and sweetens the cocktail. While you can measure out with a tablespoon, I usually just eyeball it to taste.
- Fresh lemon juice: lemon adds a burst of citrus and fresh flavor.
- Cinnamon stick: cinnamon is optional but it adds phenomenal cinnamon flavor as it steeps. I highly recommend it.
- Star anise: star anise adds a subtle anise flavor. Anise offers a black licorice flavor that is surprisingly delicious. Paired with the cinnamon and clove adds a range of spices that adds complexity.
- Whole cloves: cloves offer a subtle sweet spice similar to cinnamon.
Best Whiskey for a Hot Toddy?
Most of my Hot Toddies are made with bourbon, however, your favorite whiskey should do the trick. Don’t break the bank on top-shelf whiskey because it will be heavily diluted. Makers Mark, Four Roses, Bulleit, or similar are great choices.
You can substitute bourbon for American rye, Irish whiskey, and brandy as well. One of my favorite twists is Laird’s Applejack brandy for a hint of delicious apple flavor. It’s amazing.
How to Make a Hot Toddy
Pour hot water into a heat-safe mug.
Add lemon, honey, and bourbon.
Stir until honey is dissolved and garnish with a lemon slice, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.
Stick the cloves in the lemon wedge flesh so they don’t float around the top of the drink. They’re small, light, and easy to swallow.
- Use 1 ounce of whiskey for mild bourbon flavor and 1 1/2 ounces for a boozier punch. Interestingly enough, hot water activates the bourbon, making it taste stronger.
- Preheat your mug by filling it to the top with hot water before adding the 3/4 cup of water for the cocktail. This will keep the drink warmer for longer
- If your Hot Toddy cools halfway through, reheat it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s evidence that hot water, honey, and lemon can help to soothe a sore throat and provide some relief from cold symptoms. You can read more about a study here.
Hot Toddies are made with hot water, honey, lemon, and whiskey. They can also be made without alcohol with delicious results.
Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
Hot Toddy Recipe
- 3/4 cup very hot/boiling water
- 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, rye or Applejack brandy
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 1 cinnamon stick, garnish
- Star anise, garnish
- Whole cloves, garnish
- Pour hot water into a heat-safe mug.
- Add lemon, honey, and bourbon, honey, and lemon juice.
- Stir until honey is dissolved and garnish with a lemon slice, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.