Hot Toddy Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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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.

A classic Hot Toddy cocktail garnished with a cinnamon stick, lemon slice, and star anise on a dark wooden table.

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!

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.

Ingredients

Hot Toddy cocktail ingredients laid out on a wooden cutting board.
  • 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

Step 1.

Pour hot water into a heat-safe mug.

Hot water in a glass mug on a wooden cutting board with a lemon in the background.

Step 2.

Add lemon, honey, and bourbon.

Squeezing lemon juice into a mug with hot water with a citrus squeezer.
Pouring honey into a glass mug filled with hot water and fresh lemon juice.
Adding a jigger of bourbon to a Hot Toddy cocktail on a cutting board.

Step 3.

Stir until honey is dissolved and garnish with a lemon slice, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.

Quick Tip

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.

Stirring a Hot Toddy with a metal cocktail stirrer.
A cinnamon stick, star anise, and lemon slice with whole cloves on a cutting board.

Expert Tips

  • 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.
A classic Hot Toddy cocktail garnished with a cinnamon stick, lemon slice, and star anise on a dark wooden table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a hot toddy actually help a cold?

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.

What’s A hot toddy made of?

Hot Toddies are made with hot water, honey, lemon, and whiskey. They can also be made without alcohol with delicious results.

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More Whiskey Cocktails

5 from 1 vote

Hot Toddy Recipe

Servings: 1 cocktail
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
My bourbon Hot Toddy, made with honey, fresh lemon juice, and a cinnamon stick, is sure to be the pick-me-up you need to get through the winter months.

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

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.
Stick the cloves in the lemon wedge so they don’t float around the top of the drink. They’re small, light, and easy to swallow.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 167kcalCarbohydrates: 17.8gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 6mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 17.7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: British
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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