A Toddy Diversion

I was laid low earlier this week with a bout of malaise or some sort of illness.  It distracted me from completing other posts, but it has inspired a quick post about the Hot Toddy!  A fantastic treat suited to when you feel under the weather or when the weather just chills you to the bone, and from the looks of our extended forecast, we may well have a few days of chill left in the air.

At the most basic level, a hot toddy consists of a whisk(e)y, sweetened with sugar, and topped with hot water.  You may add a bit of spice with nutmeg as traditional, though I have a stash of cloves for this purpose. The procedure is even simpler:

  • 1: Put a spoonful of sugar in a  mug or Irish Coffee Glass.  I add my clove or two here.
  • 2: Heat water in your tea kettle.  You do have a tea kettle, right?
  • 3: Pour several ounces, to taste, of the water over the sugar.
  • 4:  Stir to dissolve the sugar
  • 5:  Add a shot of whisk(e)y
  • 6:  Grate on a little nutmeg, if using.


My personal predilections call for the addition of citrus, which transforms this into a Whisky Skin according to drink historian David Wondrich.  See Wondrich, David, Imbibe!, 144-45 (Perigee 2007).    The Whisk(e)y can be anything you desire – single malt scotch, blended scotch, bourbon, rye, or even Kentucky Whiskey.  If I am using an 80 proof spirit, instead of cask strength, or a blended scotch instead of a single malt, I’ll use a spoonful of honey instead of the sugar.  In my further adulteration, I sometimes squeeze the entire lemon wedge into the drink instead of just steeping a peel in the hot water. But I LOVE citrus.

The steam is perfumed with your spice and acts to open the flavors of the whisk(e)y into the air.  If you have done it just so, the flavor of the whisk(e)y hits your nose just as you take a warming sip of this lovely concoction. The taste is … relaxing.  It has just a hint of sweet, lots of flavor if you used a good whisk(e)y, and the chance to warm yourself both figuratively and literally.