Chilly winter days call for—nay, beg for—a soul-warming hot cocktail. While you could fix any number of steaming drinks, nothing does the job quite like a Hot Toddy with its sinus-clearing whiskey and throat-soothing honey. But sometimes the curative combination of spirit, sugar, water and spice gets a little boring. Fortunately, that’s easy to remedy (unlike your winter cold).
Here are five ways to make a better Hot Toddy.
Ditch the Whiskey
Just because whiskey is the go-to Hot Toddy spirit doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to switch things up. Swapping out the whiskey is the easiest way to give your drink new life. Go for rum or scotch if you want to stay in the brown spirits family, or opt for gin (trust us) or tequila to add an herbal or vegetal element.
Try Tea Instead of Water
If you want to add even more flavor to your Hot Toddy, look to tea time for inspiration. Simply drop your favorite tea into the hot water to create a cocktail-elevating infusion. If you like gin, go for chamomile. Black tea goes great with rum, and green tea is a must with whiskey. You can even infuse your Toddy with a Sleepytime tea to create an extra-cozy nitecap.
Use Flavored Sugars or Syrups
While honey or demerara sugar complements everything from whiskey to rum to gin, just about any flavored sugar, agave syrup, oleo saccharum or infused simple syrup will work. Some of our favorite flavor enhancers include rose or lavender sugar, cardamom sugar, ginger syrup, pineapple syrup and hop-honey syrup. You could even channel ancient cocktail history and try your hand at a tiki-fied Fassionola syrup to give your Toddy some tropical flare.
Experiment with Spices and Herbs
A Hot Toddy often comes adorned with a clove-studded orange peel. While this is a fantastic option for infusing a little baking spice warmth into the drink, just about any other spice can be used here. Drop in star anise for some licorice flavor, or stir everything together with a cinnamon stick. And don’t ignore dark horse spices, like turmeric or bay leaves, which will put a savory spin on the drink. Or, if you want a fresher garnish, opt for herbs. Rosemary and thyme are particularly nice with gin-, vodka- or bourbon-spiked Hot Toddies, while cilantro would be a lovely addition to a tequila and agave syrup Toddy.
Juice It Up
A Hot Toddy can handle more fruity flavors than your basic squeeze of lemon or expressed orange peel. Tequila-based Toddies would go well with a half ounce of lime juice, while rum Toddies benefit from a full ounce of pineapple juice. Tart pomegranate juice also goes nicely in a Toddy if you’re using gin.