Holy shit y’all. Over the weekend, it was in the mid-70ºs in Atlanta, and most other parts of the U.S. (That’s like 25ºc for all of you in Nazi Canada or any other country in the world for that matter.) But then I wake up, and suddenly, freezing outside. Literally frozen. Needless to say, I shook my fist at the frigid morning sky while my dog took his sweet time finding the perfect place to take shit. While seething, I dreamed of warm islands, sunny beaches, or at the very least, a cozy fire and a warm beverage. Now that I mention it, a warm beverage with alcohol in it might be nice, right?
The 1st world doesn’t typically have to deal with this, but have you ever lived in a house with a bad draft? Or one that was entirely heated by a wood burning stove/fire place? Or even just a place with a shitty window heating unit? From what I gather, it’s terrible. It’s a kind of cold that isn’t biting, but dull. It’s a cold you can’t shake off with a coat or a blanket. It lingers. It permeates. And one of the very few methods that early American’s found to fight off the cold, was through a one-two (likely three) punch of alcohol and hot water (and likely a sweetener). Depending on where you were or what you had available, this drink came in different forms.
It’s a drink that is highly up to preferences, so we’re going to build a rough foundation, and allow for variations from that point.
Tonight, if you’re feeling a bit chilly, we’re drinking…
One of the oldest recipes we have available is from Jerry Thomas (if you’ve followed the tips, or know much cocktails, this won’t come as a surprise). The recipe is as follows:
Hot Brandy Toddy (Use small bar-glass, hot.)
- Take 1 tea-spoonful of fine white sugar.
- 2oz Brandy.
Dissolve the sugar in a little boiling water, add the brandy, and pour boiling water into the glass until it is two-thirds full Grate a little nutmeg on top.
While this recipe was fine and dandy back in 1862, a lot has changed since then, most notably, our palates.
While any spirit can be used in a toddy, something that Americans learned pretty quickly was this: Toddies are best made with whiskey, but even better with “whisky”. By that, I mean to say they are quite excellent with Scotch Whisky. And while sugar + water + spirit = good, honey + water + lemon + spirit = much better.
So let’s take a look at it that way:
- 2 oz. Scotch whisky
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp. honey
- Hot water, to taste
Mix the whisky with the lemon juice and honey in a thick glass or mug. Stir and add hot water to taste.
To complicate the recipe a little further, you may be interested in altering the hot water slightly, by brewing some tea in it before mixing the drink. You also might enjoy tossing a cinnamon stick in the mug and stirring it around a bit with that.
Most of these recipes go well with all sorts of spirits, but I’d say the best options are spirits aged in wood: Scotch, bourbon, rye, brandy, or dark/golden rum. It is very much a preferential drink, so play with it, and drink what you like.
Peach Schnapps, straight out of the bottle, into your face.
Scotch on the rocks.