Winter is the perfect season to cozy up with a warm cocktail and nothing turns up the heat quite like a hot toddy.
In the mid-19th century, the hot toddy was consumed as a way to help cure the common cold. You would fix yourself a steaming mug of hot water, add honey, herbs, spices and liquor such as whiskey, rum, or brandy and let the healing begin. Today, many still believe it's an effective natural remedy for curing the sniffles and getting you back on your feet. Either way, we're happy to keep testing this theory—for the sake of science, of course.
Many restaurants and bars across the country are putting their own spin on hot toddies by incorporating different spices, alcohol and liqueurs. These seven versions are sure to warm you to the core.
① The Yuzu-Apple Toddy at Bar Goto (New York)
You won't find this unique Japanese hot toddy on the menu, but say the magic words and one just might appear. The recipe calls for apple-brandy Calvados, lemon juice, honey and lemon ginger and apple cinnamon tea—and comes with a side of yuzu marmalade that customers stir into the drink.
② The Casanova at Whisler's (Austin)
Bartender Brett Esler combines all the comforting flavors we love about winter in this creation. It is a bourbon-based cocktail made with Licor 43, allspice and pomegranate liqueurs, and sherry. Esler finishes it with cinnamon-and-lemon-infused hot water.
③ Haystack Toddy at The Bennett (New York)
Hot toddy meets pumpkin pie in this version created by mixologist Meaghan Dorman. It incorporates seasonal flavors like ginger liqueur and pumpkin butter, which balance nicely with the honey, caramel and oaky-vanilla notes from the bourbon.
④ The Oaxacan Hot Toddy at Paley (Los Angeles)
Seasonal winter fruits like blood orange take center stage in the hot toddy at Paley. "Since we’re right in the middle of blood orange season, I love to play around with them instead of regular oranges, as I think it brings an additional dimension of flavor," explains lead bartender Melina Mez. "We add in Cointreau, which plays well with the citrus, and Gem & Bolt Mezcal to the cup and then top it off with boiling hot water. It is as easy as that!”
⑤ The Jailbird at The Dead Rabbit (New York)
The Dead Rabbit is known for putting inventive twists on classics and the Jailbird is a perfect example. This robust cocktail is made with bourbon whiskey, Calvados, Madeira, macadamia, almond, bitters, and topped with a cream float. It's not on the menu, but they'll still make it if you ask nicely.
⑥ The Hot Toddy at The Violet Hour (Chicago)
This beloved cocktail lounge with a James Beard Award-winning beverage program puts their own signature spin on the toddy. Created by bartender David Gonsalves, it combines Jim Beam Rye and the tannic cola flavors of the Italian liqueur Amaro Ramazzotti. To ensure the cocktail stays hot even longer, Gonsalves "primes" each glass (prepping it with hot water) before mixing your drink.
⑦ The Hot Toddy at Olmsted (Brooklyn, New York)
Head bartender Mike Boh makes his hot toddy with rye, spiced porter syrup, lemon juice and hot water. The special ingredient here is the porter syrup, which lends richness to the drink, but gets balanced out by the lemon juice.