Unsurprisingly i’m a huge whisky fan and there is nothing like a Scottish hot toddy! Nothing warms you up and makes you feel better about just about anything really. Reputed to cure the common cold, nerves and anxiety and even sea sickness!
The origin of the drinks name might come from British colonialism where the Hindu word tārī, a drink made from the fermented sap of the various varieties of toddy palm, was made into an alcoholic drink hence the name. Apparently the British liked it so much it made it back to our shores in the U.K. At this point however, it was always drunk cold
The Scottish hot toddy version, which came with it heated, was made with whisky, honey and warming spices and acted as a preventative for the common cold. The drinks popularity spread (well its whisky and honey !! what more do we need ?) and the rumor and legend begin to insert themselves into its history. For example, it is suggested the name toddy, is related to the origin of the water used for the drink—Tod’s Well in Edinburgh . Tod’s well supplied all the water to Edinburgh at a certain time and was probably best boiled!
Lets get down to brass tacks, the recipe. There are many approaches and as many recipes as there are people I’m sure in approach to crafting this drink. I would suggest not using your best whisky for this. If all you have is top shelf amazing whisky, lucky you, but i’d stay away from the more peaty ones as it changes the taste profile massively, but you may like this !
Basic Scottish Hot toddy Recipe – for a standard mug
- A measure of whisky
- A teaspoon of honey
- Lemon Juice
- Boiling water to fill
- Add in cinnamon stick and/or cloves or any other spices you fancy like Nutmeg etc
My mum back n the early 1980’s used to use lemonade instead of the water and lemon juice. She would heat it through then add honey to it to dissolve then once cooled a little pour it over the whisky. Not quite as good for you but still a useable version. On that note my mum also used to dip my dummy in whisky to hush me up too …
There are a million and one variations to the hot toddy recipe with some suggestions below not all of them mean getting a bairn drunk mind you.
Hot toddy variation for a cold – (Rosalee de la foret)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup tart cherry juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 clove
- Slice of fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Honey to taste
- 1/2 ounce whiskey or brandy
- Slice of lemon (optional)
Simmer the water, tart cherry juice, and spices for 10 minutes, covered. Strain. Add the lemon juice, honey, and whiskey or brandy. Serve with the cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon, if desired. The tart cherry juice is a good provider of Vitamins and help promotes sleep. Ginger and clove are warming.
The final one is an idea taken from the the principle of tincture making.
Its been passed down to me as:
Grandad Fred’s Hot Toddy Mixture
- 1 piece of root ginger
- 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
- 1 bottle of whisky
- grated zest and juice of one lemon
- 350g light muscavdo sugar
- 225g raisins (large fat sticky variety)
Bruise the ginger and the caraway seeds and put them in a wide necked jar with everything else and pour over the whisky. Screw on the lid and let sit as you would a tincture for three weeks or more. You should try to shake it daily if possible. Once all this is done rebottle in original bottle and label.
This can be used added to hot water like a hot toddy above or just drunk by itself. Apparently meant to help cure anything from a cold to sea sickness! But bear in mind too much alcohol when ill uses up vitamin C you need to fight your cold. It makes sense as caraway has been used as a carminative for a long time and also has antimicrobial muscle relaxing properties. Ginger is a well known warming carminative too. If you are suffering form a cough too you might want to try this recipe out
Stay safe and well,
 For some proof of this, check out the website Conan’s Pub, where the creators have gathered a 1721 Allan Ramsay poem and a sliver of Lois Joseph Vance’s 1909 novel The Bronze Bell.)
As a child growing up in a Celtic family of Irish and scots in the 1950’s my grandparents provided the hot toddy drinks for us children when we had a bad cold. From my memory it seemed to really work very well, Most likely the whisky caused us to go to sleep and thus hurried the healing process as the honey southed our throats.
BTW most of the early cold remedies right up to recent times contained quantities of alcohol as part of their ingredients. Blessings to all for a wonderful New Year!
Haven’t had this in years. A favorite of my grandmother Hills , when we were sick.
I have to admit that the only way I can take whisky is in a hot toddy. I have tried, honestly, but I find the taste of whisky itself overpowering. I have fond memories of being given a hot toddy when I had the cold.It was almost worth getting a cold for!