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5 Tips: Hot Toddies

We’ve waited months for this. Long, hot, humid months. But with fall officially here, we can finally enjoy a mug of that steaming alcoholic concoction—so delightful on a cool night—known as the Hot Toddy. To get it right, we asked St. John Frizell, Toddy maven and owner of Fort Defiance in Brooklyn, to divulge some of his tricks as well as a couple of his recipes.

Get Out the Good Stuff:

You can use most any kind of liquor in a Toddy—the traditional formula is a combination of whisky, hot water, sugar and citrus—as long as it’s a good bottling. “The quality of the spirit matters even more with hot drinks,” Frizell says. “There’s something about the harshness of a cheap spirit that comes out the more you heat it.”


Crank Up the Heat:

Frizell abides by The Gentleman’s Companion author Charles H. Baker’s adage: “Serve cold drinks arctic cold…serve hot drinks steaming hot…Compromise in either of these events is merely bargaining with fault and disaster.” For Toddies, Frizell likes a heavy mug, which holds heat better than a glass, and he pre-warms it by filling it first with boiling water. “This way,” he says, “you admire it, smell it, sip it a little and then you drink it.”

Keep it Simple:

While some Toddy recipes call for honey or even maple syrup, Frizell prefers simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water). “Its clean taste doesn’t interfere with the other flavors,” he says. But no matter which sweetener you choose, use more of it than might seem necessary to smooth out whatever harsh edges emerge from heating up the alcohol.

Try Cider:

Double down on the fall factor and substitute cider for water. “People love drinking hot cider,” Frizell says. “It’s the first thing they go for when it gets cold.” He even mixes the autumn all-star with amaretto for his Hanny’s Hot Apple Toddy. “It sounds too sweet,” he says, “but it’s really, really good.”

Make a Punch:

Expecting some company? You can easily turn your favorite Toddy into a bowl of hot punch, Frizell says, by just multiplying the recipe. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients: A complex hot gin punch is what introduced Frizell to the world of warm cocktails.

Hanny’s Hot Apple Toddy

Contributed by St. John Frizell


  • Boiling water
  • 1.5 oz Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira
  • 8 oz Apple cider, piping hot
  • Heavy cream, shaken until thick but pourable
  • Cinnamon

Glass: Mug

Fill a 10-oz mug with boiling water. When the mug is hot, pour out the water and add the amaretto and cider. Top with a layer of cream. Use a Microplane to grate fresh cinnamon on top.

Hot Tom Toddy

Contributed by St. John Frizell


  • Boiling water
  • 2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
  • .5 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

Garnish: Lemon wheel studded with cloves

Glass: Mug


Fill a 10-oz mug with boiling water. When the mug is hot, pour out the water and add the gin and syrup. Fill with fresh boiling water. Use a Microplane to grate cinnamon and nutmeg on top and garnish with a lemon wheel studded with cloves.

Series & Type: Entertaining Trends5 Tips
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