by Pameladevi Govinda
The throwback winter-warming grog is spicing it up at hip bars and sophisticated restaurants.
Usually concocted of a dark spirit, hot water, lemon juice, honey and cloves or cinnamon, the steaming Hot Toddy has had a makeover. The principles remain the same, but generic liquor has been replaced with premium spirits and spices, and fruits and sweeteners have taken an exotic turn.
BOA Steakhouse in Santa Monica, CA makes a beautifully perfumed version. "Being a warm drink, aromas are fully released," explains Brent Berkowitz, executive general manager. He concocted their BOA Toddy with two unusual ingredients: Rooibos Bourbon (an herbal South African tea blended with vanilla beans from Madagascar) and lavender honey, along with bourbon, Grand Marnier and lemon juice. "I used to make Hot Toddies the old school way but I started thinking about how those vanilla notes in the tea would complement bourbon. You can really smell all the ingredients in this drink."
Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller of Makerís Mark, shared his thoughts on creating Hot Toddies with bourbon: "Bourbon sets up really well for the Hot Toddy because youíve got that wonderful caramel and vanilla note. Back at Windows on the World, with my friend Dale DeGroff, we were experimenting with the drink and he ended up making a warm Old Fashioned by taking the ice out and replacing the soda with hot water."
Bourbon isnít the only distillate that adds panache to the potion; agave spirit lends character to the Tequila Toddy at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV. "Weíve given a Latin flair to the traditional Hot Toddy by replacing the brandy with tequila, honey with agave nectar and fresh lime juice instead of lemon. We prefer to use aged tequila so I went with the Gran Centenario Anejo because itís finished in sherry casks, giving it a richness thatís perfect for the Toddy," says beverage manager, Drew Levinson.
Rum is favored at Hankís Oyster Bar in Washington DC, where the recipe calls for ginger-infused Goslings rum, Poire Williams Liqueur, Chinese five-spice infused simple syrup and fresh lemon sour. Bartender Abigail Fellows affirms that infusions are what make their Toddy a hit. "Infusions are in right now. We make our own ginger-infused rum for the Dark Ní Stormy cocktailóweíve cross-utilized the maceration to make our Hot Toddy, too." She adds, "It smells really enticing, a little like an apple pie."
Apples have a great affinity with bourbon, brandy and dark rum. Pickerellís a big fan of the combo, "One product that Iíve enjoyed making Hot Toddies with is Stirrings Spiced Apple, a non-alcohol mixer. Or even a little warmed bourbon and sliced apples or Makerís Mark with cider."
The best new wave recipes showcase mixologistsí creativity, but donít forget about the medicinal reputation of the grog. Fellows quips, "I think the Hot Toddy is even better than NyQuil."
Hot Toddy Recipes
(Makes 2 servings)
16 oz pot of brewed Roobios Bourbon Tea
2 oz Maker's Mark
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz lavender honey
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in the teapot. Serve piping hot in a snifter.
(Makes 1 serving)
1 oz Gran Centenario Anejo Tequila
1/2 oz Fresh agave nectar
1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
Add ingredients to hot water in heated coffee mug and stir well with a bar spoon. Garnish with a lime wheel and a cinnamon stick.
Hankís Oyster Bar Hot Toddy
(Makes 1 serving)
1 oz Poire William Pear Liqueur
1/2 oz fresh ginger-infused Goslingís rum
1/2 oz Chinese five spice-infused simple syrup
A splash of fresh lemon sour
Mix ingredients in a glass coffee mug. Add very hot water to top off mug and garnish with either a half seckel pear or a lemon twist.
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