Serious Eats: Recipes

Time for a Drink: Hot Toddy

[Photo: Jessica Leibowitz]

Time for a break in the holiday madness. While many of us are finishing shopping and wrapping, it's good to take some time away from the holiday preparations.

That's where the hot toddy comes in. True, the toddy is echt seasonal: The weather is ranging from cold and crisp to windy, drippy, and frigid, and at times like these a toddy is essential medicine. But it's also quite simple, a welcome contrast to the appley, cranberry-laden holiday drinks we had in November, and a prelude to the richer, heavier drinks of Christmas itself.

As if this wasn't enough, the toddy is engagingly flexible: While most people prefer theirs with a good dose of Scotch (this is one of the few mixed drinks where a single-malt is not only appropriate but desirable), a nice Irish whiskey works well; bourbon and rye can also do a suitable job, and a toddy made with a good dark rum has a special kind of appeal (and while I haven't tried one yet, word has it that a toddy made with a rich Holland-style gin is a not undesirable thing).

While Christmas is almost here, there's no need to dive into the eggnog right away. Fortify yourself for the last push before Thursday with a hot toddy, one of the best winter warmers known to mankind.

Options: This is all you need for a decent toddy, though some people prefer to twiddle with the controls a bit. Some choose to grate a bit of nutmeg atop a finished toddy, while others like to add a swath of lemon peel and perhaps a clove or two to the mix. For sweetener, some people like to use honey for the richness; I find the honey's flavor distracting from the whiskey, and prefer to use a rich demerara sugar, which gives the drink a nice body.

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

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