Whisky Magazine Issue 52
This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.
Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2017. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.
Ian Wisniewski on a very old classic
Thriving on tradition, and offering ease of preparation, not to mention a sense of well-being (or at least an illusion of this), the hot toddy seems to have it all.
Except that a hot toddy is never ordered when you're dressed up to enjoy an evening within the glamour of a cocktail bar. Being perceived as a home remedy, a hot toddy is usually served at one specific venue: your place, and at a particular time: when you're not looking your best, wrapped in a nightgown and sneezing, with company neither required or welcome.
The ‘medicinal benefits' typically attributed to the hot toddy also link back to an original belief that whisky was a remedy for various fevers and afflictions. Moreover, whisky was also thought to promote longevity and a youthful appearance, which accounted for the original term ‘uisque beatha' (‘the water of life').
As a traditional Scottish term, with the first written reference appearing in Robert Burns' Holy Fair (1786), a ‘hot toddy' originally referred to a combination of whisky and hot water sweetened with sugar.
Being featured in the first cocktail book, The Bar-Tender's Guide published in the USA in 1862, confirmed the hot toddy's status as a classic. Author and legendary bartender Jerry Thomas's recipe for a Hot Whiskey Toddy entailed dissolving sugar in boiling water, adding some bourbon or rye whiskey, and topping up with boiling water.
This book also includes another traditional option, a cold toddy, which means dissolving some sugar...