What is a Hot Toddy?

In the midst of this weirdest and most difficult winter, we are looking for comfort above all else.  And while none of us should take TOO much comfort in food or drink, it’s fair to say that when our lives feel constricted and simple joys are harder to come by, well, food and drink do give us some pleasure.

Hot Toddy

Enter the hot toddy.  An old-fashioned term to be sure, but a very contemporary feeling drink to me.  The history of the drink is a bit unclear, but it seems to have originated in India while it was under British control in the early 17th century.   The word toddy apparently comes from the Hindi word “taddy” which meant beverage fermented from palm sap, and the English kind of took it and ran with it (which was not exactly uncharacteristic behavior).

It is also known as a Hot Whiskey in Ireland, and while it is often made with whiskey (of varying types) it can also be made with bourbon or even rum – some brown liquor.  The booze is mixed with some spices and hot water, honey, perhaps a bit of citrus, and it’s the kind of thing that is most often drunk on a wet, cold night, when one is trying to get better from — or ward off — some cold symptoms.  

Hot Toddy Ingredients

  • Water – heating the water is what makes it a hot toddy
  • Whiskey …or bourbon… or brandy or rum – so many ways to go!
  • Honey – adds sweetness and smoothness
  • Lemon juice – use fresh for the best flavor!
Hot Toddy

Do Hot Toddys Work?

Does it work?  I’m a believer.  I also like bourbon.  The honey is the kicker, as it coats the throat, reducing soreness and that annoying cough-tickle.  In this hot toddy recipe a bit of lemon juice and a slice or two of lemon brighten things up – vitamin C, doncha know.  And if you stick with just one, and don’t overdo it, it can also help you sleep a bit better if you are fighting a cold.

I say it is better to take precaution and pre-emptively bolster one’s immunity with a hot toddy.  No, it won’t prevent the really bad things, but wouldn’t we all like to feel a little warm and cozy and relaxed as we wait for spring to finally arrive?

How to Make a Hot Toddy

Bring ¾ cup water to a simmer.  Pour the whiskey or booze of your choice into a heatproof glass mug.

How to Make a Hot Toddy

Add 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste.

Hot Toddy

Add about half a lemon’s worth of juice.  

Hot Toddy

Pour in the hot water.  

Hot Toddy

Stir until the honey has melted, and taste.  

Hot Toddy

Add more honey or lemon juice (or whiskey!) as desired).  

Garnish with the lemon.

Hot Toddy

And cinnamon stick (and apple slice if desired).

Hot Toddy

Drink! If you’re looking for something sweet to serve with a hot toddy, I think this Orange Cake would be perfect.

Hot Toddy: Let’s all take precaution and pre-emptively bolster our immunity with a hot toddy, a warm cocktail get us through the winter.

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Hot Toddy

Let's all take precaution and pre-emptively bolster our immunity with a hot toddy, a warm cocktail get us through the winter.
Yield: 1 Person
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian


  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ ounces whiskey or bourbon or brandy or rum
  • 1 tablespoon honey , or to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Optional Garnishes:

  • Cinnamon stick
  • Slices of lemon
  • Sliced apple (optional)


  • In a teapot, a small pot, or in the microwave in a microwave safe container, bring the water to a simmer.
  • Pour the whiskey or booze of your choice into a heatproof glass or mug along with the honey and lemon juice. Pour in the hot water. Stir until the honey has melted, and taste. Add more honey or lemon juice (or whiskey!) as desired).
  • Garnish with the cinnamon stick, lemon, and apple, or not. Sip away.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 172kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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