A FUNNY THING HAPPENED on my way to the kettle a few weeks ago … I passed over the Sleepytime tea for a persuasive bottle of Jim Beam. Splashing a shot (or two) of the pungent bourbon into a boiling cup of water, I instinctively added a teaspoon of raw sugar and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon to create My New Favorite Drink.
Cupping the piping hot mug in my hands as the fragrant steam wafted beneath my nose was a pleasure in and of itself; but sipping the smooth concoction made me forget about winter, cured my nagging sore throat and left me sleeping like a baby.
What I'd unconsciously brewed is a twist on an age-old drink that originated in Scotland: the hot toddy. There are many variations of the hot toddy, but generally there are three basic components: liquor, hot liquid and sweetener.
Rum, especially spiced rum, is tasty, but so are brandy, whiskey and bourbon. The beauty of making hot toddies is that you can experiment with a variety of flavors and perfect your own signature blend. Just add any of these spirits to hot water, tea, coffee or cocoa (hint: warm the glass or mug first); sweeten with sugar, simple syrup or honey; and flavor with citrus (fresh lemon, lime or orange) and/or spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg).
Spring is just around the corner, so don’t let the last few weeks of winter melt away without trying a hot toddy. Here are a couple recipes to get you started:
Serves one. Fill a cup or glass two-thirds full with boiling water. Add sugar and lemon and stir. Add bourbon, stir, sip and enjoy.
1 c. boiling water
1 tsp. sugar in the raw
2 lemon wedges
1 – 2 shots Jim Beam
Serves four. Spread sugar on small plate. Dip rims of mugs into cold water, then dip moistened rims into sugar. Mix rum and honey in a measuring cup; add boiling water and stir to blend. Divide among prepared mugs, garnish with cinnamon sticks and lemon slices and serve.
¼ c. sugar
2/3 c. spiced rum
4 T. honey
3 c. boiling water
4 cinnamon sticks
4 lemon slices (SARTOR)