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Classic Hot Toddy

Classic Hot Toddy

The ultimate winter warmer.

Simple, classic and warming to the core, the hot toddy holds a kind of reverence as both historic warmer and folk remedy. Versions have circulated for centuries, from 19th-century bartender Jerry Thomas’ Irish Whiskey Punch with hot water and lemon oleo saccharum, to the flaming spectacle of the Blue Blazer. Bartender and author Jim Meehan, a native Midwesterner, is no stranger to cold-weather cocktails, and his recipe for Hot Whiskey is an easy-to-mix hybrid of a couple of Thomas’ recipes, drawing inspiration from a trip to Ireland. “I saw a patron sipping this toddy they called ‘hot whiskey’ in a pub in Galway on a chilly rainy day, and I ordered one without hesitation,” he says in his book, Meehan’s Bartenders Manual.

The key to this toddy is the garnish—toss it in the drink. As Meehan says, “… If you combine hot water with alcohol, heady fumes will evaporate from the glass, repelling all but the most intrepid imbibers. The lemon floats to the surface, blocking the steam from billowing up, and the heat from the water enhances the cloves’ aromatics.”

Tip: Opt for a bold, flavorful whiskey (Meehan uses Powers Irish Whiskey), or substitute any pot-distilled spirit of personal preference. Likewise, hot tea can be used in place of water, and spices like nutmeg or cinnamon can be added to taste.


  • 1 1⁄2 oz. Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz. honey syrup*
  • 4 oz. hot water
  • Garnish:half lemon wheel studded with cloves


Preheat a tempered mug, then add the hot water, Irish whiskey, and honey syrup. Garnish.

*Meehan makes a slightly richer syrup using two-thirds honey to one-third water, but he says sweetening with sugar, agave or maple syrup works just as well.

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