Ah, ’tis the season. Even here in Southern California, where we don’t have as much differentiation between the seasons, I’m always surprised at the turn of weather when I’m no longer sitting on the porch sipping rosemary lemonade. Instead, I find myself cozied up in the kitchen, pouring myself a steamy hot toddy scented with cinnamon and cloves when the sky looks like this…
Hot toddies — or hottie totties, as I sometimes like to call them — were one of the original hot cocktails and while the exact origins are unknown, it’s widely accepted that hot toddies were invented in Scotland in the 1700s.
I’m quite fond of hot cocktails as they always remind me of snowy weekends in the woods or nights spent in front of a fire. I like them all, from mulled cranberry-apple cider to Irish coffee topped with cream, but hot toddies really are the perfect nightcap: not too heavy, not too sweet, with medicinal benefits to boot. Hot toddies have traditionally been used as a folk remedy to cure the common cold and flu, thanks to the healing and soothing properties of its ingredients.
In its most basic form, a hot toddy is hot water sweetened with honey, balanced with lemon, and spiked with whiskey. I like to spice it up a bit with cinnamon and cloves (also very good for you, health-wise) and add a shot of honey whiskey, which subtly enhances the sweetness. Honey whiskey is tasty. Since you’re not drinking this stuff on the rocks, a mid-grade honey whiskey works well for making hot toddies.
Honeylicious Hot Toddy
Makes 2 servings
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons honey
3 ounces honey whiskey
2 bags black tea
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
2 lemon slices
Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
Between two mugs, add the lemon juice, honey, honey whiskey, tea bags, and cinnamon. Pour the hot water over these ingredients and steep the tea for a few minutes.
To garnish, stick a few cloves (pointy ends in) through a slice of lemon. Float a clove-studded lemon in each mug and serve.