I couldn't help but notice that this week, it seems like everyone has some form of plague. I should know. I'm still sniffling and stuffy. My prescription is a nice Hot Toddy.
The Hot Toddy is more of a method than a specific cocktail. It starts with a base of boiling-hot water, then varies wildly from there. I've seen some that involve several liqueurs, some highly flavored base (apple cider is a common offender), and about half the contents of the nearest Penzeys Spices. The resulting cocktails are... pleasant, but the end result is that everyone's "special signature toddy" tastes just like the next one because there's too much going on. Simplicity is key!
The most common spirit in a toddy is some robust form of whiskey. Scotch and rye are both quite enjoyable, but any dark spirit is welcome to the party. Bourbon, Cognac, applejack, dark rum, it's all good here. An ideal sweetener is Demerara sugar. The residual molasses play nicely with the dark spirits, while still letting the booze shine. I'll keep spices minimal, and as close to virgin form as possible: A cinnamon stick or a couple of cloves, and a little citrus in the form of lemon zest. You can change things up a little bit by varying sweeteners and spice, but remember to keep it simple.
If I'm making a Toddy for someone under the weather, I change things up a little bit. First, the sweetener of choice is honey. It has soothing properties like no other sweetener. I cut back on the spirits. While the numbing effect of alcohol tames a cough, you need to keep your fluid intake high, and alcohol dehydrates your body. Last, I'll use a decent squeeze of lemon, and then drop in the squeezed peel. The vitamin C content in a lone lemon wedge is minimal, but every little bit helps.
Hot Toddy: Classic Version 1 sugar cube 1 strip lemon zest 1 ½ ounces rye whiskey Boiling water Cinnamon stick Lemon wedge (optional)
In a coffee mug, muddle the sugar cube and lemon zest. Add rye whiskey, and fill with boiling water. Stir to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and optional lemon wedge.
Hot Toddy, with a Twist 1 strip orange zest ½ ounce maple syrup 1 ½ ounces Canadian whiskey Boiling water 3 cloves
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Squeeze orange zest into coffee mug to express the orange's oils. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine.
Cold Slayer Hot Toddy 1 lemon wedge ½ ounce honey 1 ounce dark spirits (you're sick, I'll let you pick; lean toward something mild) Boiling water Cinnamon stick garnish
Squeeze lemon wedge into coffee mug, dropping in spent wedge. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine. Garnish with cinnamon stick.