The Hot Toddy is renowned to have originated in 18th century Scotland with the intent of making Scotch more palatable to women. They have been traditionally sipped before going to bed and as part of various home remedies to cure the common cold and flu. But as the days grow shorter, the cold weather grips us, and the rain beats against the windows, you’ll be rewarded by making a Hot Toddy to soothe the chills away.

The broadest definition of a Hot Toddy is that it’s a mixed drink served hot. This gives the preparer a lot of leeway in creating the drink, but doesn’t provide a lot of specific direction. The basics for a traditional Hot Toddy revolve around whisky, honey, lemon, hot water, and possibly some spices. After some experimentation with Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, various measurements of honey, lemon, cloves, and cinnamon, here’s a recipe that provides a balance of flavors.

Hot Toddy Recipe

Hot Toddy Ingredients


- 2 tablespoons whisky

- 2 tablespoons mild honey

- 3 whole cloves

- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

- 1/2 cup boiling water

- 1 lemon slice

- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


1) In a mug or cup, mix the whisky, honey, lemon juice together.

2) Add the cloves, slice lemon, and the lemon zest.

3) Finally add the hot water and stir together.


A smoky Scotch such as Laphroaig gives the drink a different background nuance than a sweeter style Bourbon, which will be different from a spicy style Rye. There are no boundaries and requirements here and since there are enough flavors and spices in the drink, you don’t need to spend a mint or use your best Scotch. If you are looking for an inexpensive Scotch with some of those peaty, smoky qualities, try Black Bottle, an inexpensive (~$20) blended Islay Scotch (available at the following retailers).

If you like a less sweet drink, use less honey. If you want a more diluted drink, add more hot water. There was some experimentation with a Ceylon cinnamon stick, but it was too pungent. The above recipe is the one that really hit all the right notes, but find the style that makes you feel warm and cozy.

If you are feeling a little down, a tad chilly, or maybe you sense a cold is coming on, a good night’s sleep will definitely do the trick, but isn’t going to bed a little toasty on the inside just as important?


There’s not much point in drinking this in a bar and trudging home in the cold and rain. Enjoy this warming drink in the comfort of your own home.