Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

When I was growing up, I loved hearing my grandma’s health tips, and I follow them to this day. Drink a glass of warm milk with cinnamon before bed to help you sleep. Apply sunscreen to the tops of your hands, not just your face. And always, when you feel a cold coming on, get the hot toddy ingredients ready. Her famous hot toddy recipe with whiskey still gets me through the worst of my winter colds and sniffles.

The naturally fermented juice of the palmyra palm fruit is called taddy (or tadi) in Hindi. The fermented drink has been served as early as the 1600s. The modern “hot toddy” recipe we know—made with alcohol, water, sugar and spices—could have gotten its name from taddy, although the hot toddy didn’t become popular until the late 1700s. Today, it’s a common drink to enjoy during the cooler months, whether you want to warm up or need an adults-only cough remedy.

Hot Toddy Ingredients

  • Honey: Used medicinally since ancient times, honey is valued for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Water: Hot toddy recipes are a sort of build-your-own tea. As such, water acts as a hydrating base to steep the aromatic ingredients you pick.
  • Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon cuts the strong taste of whiskey and brightens the drink. You’ll also add the health benefits of lemons into every warm sip!
  • Cinnamon: One of the many health benefits of cinnamon is that it can reduce oxidative stress. It also just tastes so darn good in tea. We use a cinnamon stick instead of ground cinnamon because the ground version doesn’t dissolve in hot water.
  • Orange: The orange slice is more of a garnish here, but when steeped in the hot water, it’ll release its citrusy aroma and deepen the flavors of the drink.
  • Whiskey: Use whatever kind of whiskey you have on hand for this hot toddy recipe!


Step 1: Add the honey to a mug

Pouring Honey in large mugTMB Studio

Pour the honey into a tall glass or large mug.

Step 2: Add the remaining toddy ingredients

Hot Toddy TMB Studio

Pour the boiling water over the honey, and stir until the honey has dissolved. Stir in the whiskey and lemon juice. Add the cinnamon stick, and garnish with the orange slice. Serve.

Editor’s Tip: Some studies have shown that adding boiling water to honey can break down some of its beneficial enzymes. I tend to boil my water and wait till it cools just slightly before mixing it with the honey. This way, I know I also won’t burn my mouth if I want to drink it immediately after mixing.

Hot Toddy served in large mug with cinnamon stickTMB Studio

Hot Toddy Variations

  • Switch up the spirit: Though the typical liquor used in hot toddy recipes is whiskey, you may use bourbon (a southern custom), brandy (popular in the Midwest) or even rum (if you like a bit of spice).
  • Add ginger: Full of antioxidants, fresh gingerroot will add to the health benefits of a hot toddy and also give it a spicy kick. Add a 1-inch section of thinly sliced ginger to the water as it boils. You can remove the ginger bits before pouring over the honey.
  • Save time and use tea: Instead of steeping a bunch of ingredients, sometimes all I have patience for is dunking a tea bag into boiling water. I opt for a lemony black tea or herbal tea, stir in honey and add a shot of whiskey.

Can you make a hot toddy recipe ahead of time?

Because of its nature as a fresh, warm drink, we recommend making a hot toddy right when you need it. Vitamins and minerals in fruits are at their peak when first sliced, so you’ll get more of those cold-fighting nutrients, too.

Hot Toddy Tips

Hot Toddy served in large mug with orange slice and cinnamon stickTMB Studio

Does a hot toddy actually help a cold?

Whether a hot toddy is actually good for your health is debatable! No studies have shown the drink—or alcohol—to cure a cold, but the spices, citrus and warm water in a toddy may help to alleviate your symptoms. And, hey, if it doesn’t actually help our cold, maybe the drink just makes us drowsy enough to sleep off the cold.

What is the best whiskey for a hot toddy?

I’m partial to a good Irish whiskey in my hot toddies. Tullamore D.E.W., Jameson and Slane are smooth and offer a range of flavors like oak, vanilla and spices. Bourbons run a bit sweeter and are definitely worth trying. After all, outside of the casking process and grains, bourbon vs. whiskey isn’t all that different in the grand scheme of things. To take things in a less sweet direction, use Scotch. It’ll give the toddy a smoky flavor while complementing the cinnamon and sweet honey.

Watch how to Make Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

Prep Time
10 min

1 serving


  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 1 orange slice


  1. Pour honey into a tall glass or large mug. Add boiling water; stir until honey is dissolved. Stir in whiskey and lemon juice; add cinnamon stick and garnish with orange slice.

Nutrition Facts

1 serving: 196 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate (18g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.

Super quick and easy to make, this warming whiskey drink will get you through those cold months. Boiled water gets poured over honey until it dissolves, then a helping of whiskey and lemon juice gets added to the mix, resulting in a sweet, soothing drink. —Francine Lizotte, Langley, British Columbia

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