Classic Hot Toddy

The hot toddy is a classic warming winter drink for cold weather! It’s quick and easy, made with bourbon, lemon and hot water.

Bourbon hot toddy

Need a warming drink for cold weather? Try the Hot Toddy! Before my first hot toddy, I imagined it to be like mulled wine or spiked cider, full of warm spices and a pleasant aroma. But it’s something altogether different: pour boiling water over a shot of bourbon, then top off with lemon and spices. It’s bourbon forward and perfect for sipping on chilly evenings. Exactly why the hot toddy was invented! Here’s how to make one for yourself.

Bourbon hot toddy

What’s a hot toddy?

The hot toddy has a long history (read about it here). In the early 19th century it was thought to be a cure for colds! It makes a lot of sense after you try it: this drink definitely puts a warmth in your chest and the back of your throat! The hot toddy is a hot whiskey drink for around the fire in the evening: not a fancy winter cocktail for entertaining. What’s in a hot toddy? The ingredients you need are:

  • Whiskey
  • Lemon
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Hot water or tea

Today, there are all sorts of variations on this theme, from cranberry to run to gin hot toddy recipes. In ours, we’ve used bourbon, and maple instead of honey since it’s our drink sweetener of choice. (Plus, sometimes the flavors lemon and honey together give us a medicinal vibe. Anyone else?)

The liquor to use

The hot toddy is most often made with whiskey, but you can actually use other brown liquors. Here are a few different ways to change up the hot toddy:

  • Whiskey: Use bourbon whiskey, Irish whiskey, Scotch, rye whiskey: whatever you have on hand and like the flavor of!
  • Rum: Try dark rum instead of whiskey for a sweeter flavor.
  • Brandy: Use brandy to bring in notes of dried fruit and citrus.
hot toddy

How to make a hot toddy

The hot toddy is humble and made for quick and simple preparation at home! All you have to do is:

  • Boil: Boil some water in a tea kettle.
  • Mix: Mix together 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 3 tablespoons bourbon (about 1 shot).
  • Pour: Pour in 1/2 cup hot water and garnish with a lemon wedge, squeezing the juice in as you add it.
Bourbon hot toddy

Ways to step up the hot toddy: with garnishes!

For this hot toddy recipe, we’ve added some fancy spices since we had some left over from our hot apple cider! None are necessary, but they add a nice visual element and subtle flavor:

  • Cinnamon stick: looks festive and adds a hint of spice
  • Whole cloves: often added to spice up a hot toddy
  • Star anise: completely optional, but adds a nice touch

Star anise is the most unique of these whole spices. It’s star-shaped and has a subtle black licorice flavor. It’s available at most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can also buy star anise online.

Hot toddy

More hot drinks & winter cocktails

If you’re looking for hot drink recipes, we’ve got you covered! And we’ve got a few winter cocktails too.

This hot toddy recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar free, and naturally sweet.

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Bourbon hot toddy

Classic Hot Toddy


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x

Description

The hot toddy is a classic warming winter drink for cold weather! It’s quick and easy, made with bourbon, lemon and hot water.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 cup steaming hot water
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 3 cloves
  • Star anise (optional)
  • Cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. In the serving glass, stir together the maple syrup and bourbon. Pour in the hot water. Garnish with a lemon wedge, squeezing in the juice, and the cloves, star anise (optional) and cinnamon stick.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: Cocktail

Keywords: Bourbon Hot Toddy, Hot Toddy Recipe, Hot Toddy

More bourbon drinks

Got a bottle of bourbon to use up? Here are a few more of the top bourbon cocktails to have in your arsenal:

Last updated: May 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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