Life skills

How to make a hot toddy

A well-made, high-strength hot toddy is a thing of majesty. Not only will this winter warmer ward off colds and nourish the soul, it will also make those few days spent in the office between Christmas and New Year whizz by.

A traditional Scottish drink that originated in the 1700s, the source of the name “hot toddy” is disputed. It might be a Raj-era adaptation of the Indian “toddy”, a wine made from palm sap, but could equally be a reference to the water from Tod’s Well on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

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Regardless, it’s long been relied upon as a winter cure-all. As Victoria Moore puts it in How to Drink: “The vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.”

Esquire approached master mixologists The Soul Shakers and asked them to concoct the definitive hot-toddy recipe. The result, which can — and should — be replicated at home, is glorious.

The Soul Shakers’ Ultimate Hot Toddy recipe:
50ml Preferred Scotch whisky*
20ml Honey (or adjust to taste)
2 Wedges of lemon
175ml Hot water
5-6 Cloves
Grating of nutmeg
Cinnamon stick to garnish

*Or cognac, for special occasions (such as birthdays, or afternoons).

Pro tip:
If you have the time, spike a few whole lemons and oranges with the cloves, and roast these in the oven. Add these to your toddy to give the drink a rich and candied fruit flavour.

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