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The Hot Toddy is a unique drink because of its combination of strong spirits (usually rum, brandy or whiskey) that is served heated. Ideal for drinking on a cold day in the dark winter months, this drink has taken a small but significant part in history since the British colonial times. Today, it can be made with a variety of different alcohols, sugars, and spices to make it tasty and interesting. 

Of course, the higher quality the booze used, the better the drink is likely to taste. But, no matter how they are made, hot toddies are best enjoyed by a warm, crackling fire while snuggled up under a cozy blanket. 

If you want to learn more about what hot toddies are all about, then read more to learn about Hot Toddy Day and see how you can participate in celebrating this festive day with a bit of fun! 

History of Hot Toddy Day

The word “toddy” reaches back to the British colonial era and is taken from the Hindi word tārī, a drink made from the fermented sap of the toddy palm, which is a tree native to India. The mixture, which traditionally consists of a spirit, sugar, water, and spices and was normally served cold. Although this may be where the drink first got its name, today’s version of the drink hardly resembles its namesake at all.

Obviously, the drink has morphed significantly over time. The modern hot toddies that this day recognizes may have found their roots in 18th century Scotland. At this point, the drink was made hot by the Scots with the intention of helping to cure the common cold or other ailments. 

It is also thought that the credit for the drink may be attributed to the Irish-born doctor, Robert Bentley Todd, for his prescription of a hot drink of brandy, Canella (white cinnamon), sugar syrup, and water. It is believed to have spread to North America when American colonists during the Revolutionary War would drink hot toddies as a form of “liquid courage” before needing to fight.

As time passed, the popularity of this special drink continued to spread as many people began to believe in its preventative measures. In fact, in 1837, it was hailed as a “cure-all” by a newspaper in Burlington, Vermont. 

Today, a traditional hot toddy will contain a shot of alcohol (often whiskey, but it could also be brandy or rum), as well as a blend of honey, lemon, water and cinnamon (often in the form of a cinnamon stick).  Some variations may add ginger, star anise, cloves, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lime juice, or bitters. Some people even like to brew a tea bag into the mix for extra flavor and as an herbal home remedy. 

How to Celebrate Hot Toddy Day

It probably goes without saying, but the best way to celebrate Hot Toddy Day is to enjoy drinking this tasty, comforting beverage! Of course, exploring different recipes and variations is a fun way to add to the festivities. 

Although often used as a cure for whatever ails, the Hot Toddy doesn’t have to be only enjoyed when a person is feeling under the weather. Today’s recipes and variations means that a Hot Toddy can be appreciated even when healthy. In fact, it might even be fun to grab a couple of friends and have a get-together to celebrate Hot Toddy day to the fullest! 

Hot Toddy Day Recipes

Since the variations in recipes are almost endless, try out the basic recipe first and then feel free to take it in a different direction based on personal preference and taste. 

Classic Hot Toddy Recipe

With the standard ingredients of alcohol, water, lemon and honey, it’s easy to mix together the basic form of this yummy hot beverage that stands the test of time. 

  • Add 1 shot of whiskey to a mug.
  • Pour ¾ cup boiling water over the whiskey. 
  • Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons local honey (more for added sweetness). 
  • Stir until combined. 
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick and lemon wedge. 

Apple Jack Hot Toddy Recipe

For an interesting twist on the classic, try out this recipe: 

  • Add 2 ounces of applejack whiskey and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup to a heat-safe glass. 
  • Heat 2 ounces of water to a near-boil and pour into the same glass; stir until maple syrup is dissolved. 
  • Insert a few cloves into a lemon wedge, squeeze it in and leave in the glass.
  • Garnish with a long cinnamon stick and add a thin slice of apple. 

Chili Cinnamon Hot Toddy Recipe 

Whether clearing stuffy noses or just enjoying the kick, this chili cinnamon version of the hot toddy will knock your socks off. 

  • Start by creating a spiced simple syrup with 1 cup honey, 1 cup hot water, 1 dried chili pepper, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 2 cinnamon sticks. (Boil, simmer for 5 minutes, steep for around 1 hour, then strain.) 
  • Add ¾ tsp of spiced simple syrup to glass. 
  • Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mix. 
  • Add 2 shots of bourbon, then add enough hot water to fill the glass (use more water for a weaker drink, or less water for a stronger taste). 
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a lemon wedge. 

Choose A Fun Hot Toddy Mug! 

A hot toddy can be served in just a regular mug found lying around the house, which will surely get the job done. 

However, many bartenders like to use a clear glass mug (sometimes the style used for Irish coffee), giving the drink a classier feel. These glasses can be short or tall, simple or decorative. 

But to make it even more fun, change up the cup in which the hot toddy is served! 

The hammered copper mugs that are traditionally used for serving a Moscow Mule would add a fun twist to the classic Hot Toddy. Especially if it is served with a twist of lime instead of a lemon! 

For a nostalgic feel to Hot Toddy Day party, go ahead and pull out grandma’s old coffee mug collection from the attic. Or have everyone bring their own outrageous mug to the party–and have a contest to see who has the best one! 

No matter what it is served in, the hot toddy will taste great! 

If you like the warmth and bitter-sweetness of the drink, then share this holiday on your favorite social media websites by using the hashtag #hottoddyday and let your friends know how much you like this drink.

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