Warm Yourself By The Boozy Fire With A (Hot) Toddy Tale

If you consume as much of this stuff as we do over the winter, double or triple the recipe and can it, like my mom does. Otherwise, keep it in a sealed container (or a squeeze bottle) in your fridge for 1-2 months.

It’s also incredibly versatile. Throw it in a whiskey sour, hot cider with rum, a dark and stormy. Or add it to soda water for your own homemade ginger ale, which works great as a mixer or to soothe an upset stomach. It’s also useful in hot water to alleviate a sore throat. But why not just add the brandy at that point?

Coming into year four of our toddy making, the recipe now stays about the same: we average about 2 ounces of Jacquin’s Ginger Brandy, 8 ounces of hot water, about a tablespoon of the ginger peppercorn syrup, and a shake or two of cinnamon. Mix together and then add a little chunk of cold butter on top, to give a hint of salt to the sweet and spice. Throw a cinnamon stick in for garnish, if you so desire, and enjoy.

Jackie Philleo

Jackie Philleo

Although I am predisposed to love our toddy above all others, I will order one if I see it on a menu. There appears to be no two that are the same. Each one I’ve tried is in some way different than the last. In a lot of ways, a toddy is a blank canvas; hot water and liquor can be sweetened and spiced with an endless number of things, simple or surprising.

The offerings from our local bars this season are promising so far. Here’s where to start:

Emmanulle Hot Toddy

Emmanuelle’s Hot Toddy.Jacki Philleo

is dark and teeming with bottles of syrups and tinctures, and they have options. The Hot Picard, made with bourbon, Pedro Ximenez sherry, early grey syrup, and angostura bitters is mouth numbing and sweet. The rich flavors of the PX come out brightened with a hint of bergamot. There are other toddies with mescal and ancho chile, genever, and prune plum preserves to try next time.

Square 1682 at Hotel Palomar serves a toddy with Maker’s Mark, chamomile-citrus tea, ginger syrup and lemon. I was surprised this was the only recipe I found to include actual tea, an ingredient that I’ve previously seen in many toddies. The syrup is fresh-ginger-spicy and provides a lingering heat that happily reigns over the other elements in the mug. Also on the menu: hot buttered rum with five-spice syrup.

Fette Sau's Hot Toddy. Jackie Philleo.

Fette Sau’s Hot Toddy. Jackie Philleo.

Fette Sau offers an apple toddy made with Bulleit bourbon, apple butter, and orange peel. It’s all about the texturewith this one. Fine, granular bits of apple are suspended throughout. The result is a heartier toddy that isn’t too sweet, but fruity, warming and unpretentious.

a.kitchen has a simple-yet-sophisticated toddy, made with rye whiskey, Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac, cinnamonsyrup and steamed Cava. Apparently some Canadian toddy varieties are made with heated ginger ale, which is where the inspiration for this distinctive idea stemmed. It’s slightly spicy and sweet, aromatic, balanced, and full of subtle yet complex flavors.

Editor’s Note: I’m reminded of a drink we did when I was at The Old Dirty Chinese Restaurant–the original Philly Han Dynasty at 108 Chestnut. With little room to stock a bar, manager Dave Jenkins put together a simple program that the servers could make on the fly. The best was the Han Jiang, with jiang (ginger) being a play on owner Han Chiang’s name. Chips of ginger were left to sit overnight in bottles of Buffalo Trace bourbon that were strained the following day. To 2oz of that on rocks, we added a balanced ginger simple syrup (1/2 ounce) before topping off with ginger ale in a small glass.The idea was to smooth out and add inflections to the bourbon for a highly refreshing drink.

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