Apple Cider Hot Toddy
Apple Cider Hot Toddy

It’s not often you can drink alcohol and claim it’s good for you, but in the case of the hot toddy, you (maybe) can. The combination of whiskey, honey, lemon, and spices is sure to warm you up on a cold day, and it may even help relieve your symptoms if you’re feeling a little under the weather.

While most toddies are made with hot water and lemon, this version uses apple cider for an extra dose of seasonal goodness. (You can also add lemon here, but I prefer it without—I think the apple cider has enough tartness on its own.)

THE HISTORY OF THE HOT TODDY

It’s generally agreed that the hot toddy has been around for a long time, although no one is quite sure how long. Speaking to The Telegraph in 2001, whiskey expert Charlie MacLean traced the origin of the hot toddy to 18th-century Scotland, where honey and spices were added to mask the harsh flavor of bad Scotch.

Since then, the hot toddy has been beloved as both a winter warmer and a boozy DIY cold medicine. But is it actually good for you?

IS A HOT TODDY A HEALTHY DRINK?

According to a 2008 study, drinking hot drinks can help to relieve the symptoms of cold and flu. Spices can stimulate saliva production, soothing a sore throat, and honey is good for a cough.

But the jury’s out on the benefits of the booze; while moderate amounts of alcohol can act as a sedative and help you sleep, if you’re truly sick, it’s probably better not to overindulge.

WHAT LIQUOR TO USE FOR A HOT TODDY

Although it’s most commonly made with whiskey, you can make a toddy with pretty much anything, even tequila or gin. My preference here is for bourbon; its warm, sweet edge is a particularly nice complement to the apple cider.

A good mid-range bourbon, like Knob Creek or Four Roses, will do well here. (Super-premium bourbons are best saved for drinks where the flavor will come through a bit more.)

SCALE IT UP FOR A PARTY!

Want a warm cocktail for a party? Scale this up to serve the number of guests, combine everything on the stovetop, and keep warm over the lowest heat. Let guests serve themselves with a ladle.

You can also set the bourbon out separately and let guests add a splash to their mugs as desired.

THE NOT-TODDY, OR A NON-ALCOHOLIC HOT TODDY

Not feeling like drinking? I’m a big fan of what I call a Not-Toddy, a hot toddy without the booze. It’s every bit as delicious, and it’s suitable for children, teetotalers, and nights when you just don’t feel like drinking. In this case, you’re basically making a spiced apple cider, but what’s not to like about that?

MORE WINTER DRINKS TO ENJOY:

  • Honey Mulled Wine
  • Hot Mulled Cider
  • Traditional Eggnog
  • Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut Eggnog)
  • Orange and Vanilla Hot Buttered Rum

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon (or any other kind of whiskey)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 anise star (optional)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider

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