Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy cocktail in a glass mug with lemon wheel and cloves / Tim Nusog

The Hot Toddy cocktail is the grandfather of hot drinks. Equally at home in a snowbound mountain cabin as it is on an acclaimed cocktail menu, the classic Hot Toddy has one job that it takes quite seriously: warming you up.

The Toddy’s origins are in the mid-18th century, and the drink traditionally comprises a spirit, sugar and hot water, perhaps with a lemon peel or assorted spices. In Ireland, they used Irish whiskey. In Scotland, they used scotch. In the United States, well, they used whatever was on hand—often brandy or rum. Today, whiskey usually wins out. But you may find the cocktail laced with a number of different spirits depending on where you source it, given the Toddy’s customizable nature.

A good Toddy has been known to jump-start mornings, cure colds and play furnace on a frigid evening. Many people believe that its first use was as a medicinal aid. Liquor was known to numb pain, while citrus and sugar (or honey) could soothe a sore throat. Take one sip of the hot, comforting cocktail and it’s easy to see how it has stood the test of time. Sure, the prevalence of central heating and modern medicine may be more effective than a warm drink, but you still can’t deny the life-giving power of a Hot Toddy.

This recipe comes from San Francisco bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout and features whiskey, hot water, demerara sugar and a clove-studded lemon peel. You can use any kind of whiskey you like, and the end result will be delicious. Fortunately, the Toddy is very easy to make. Grab your favorite mug, and heat it with some boiling water, similar to how you chill a Martini glass. After a minute or two, dump the water, and build your drink in the same mug by combining your spirit with sugar and more hot water. All that’s left to do now is throw another log on the fire and enjoy the warm whiskey embrace.


Watch Now: How to Make a Perfect Hot Toddy


  • Boiling water, to fill a mug

  • 4 cloves

  • 1 lemon peel or wheel

  • 2 teaspoons demerara sugar or brown sugar

  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 2 ounces whiskey (bourbon, rye, Irish or scotch)


  1. Fill a mug with boiling water and let stand for a minute or two to warm.

  2. Meanwhile, stick the cloves into the lemon peel or wheel and set aside.

  3. Empty the mug and fill about halfway with fresh boiling water.

  4. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.

  5. Add the prepared lemon peel or wheel and stir.

  6. Add the lemon juice and whiskey, and stir again.