Opinions differ about the origin of the name "toddy." Some believe the name derives from Indian languages: Hindu, Marathi and even Sanskrit. Others believe in a Scottish toddy enthusiast named "Tod."
Whatever its origins—and, really, no one knows with any certainty—it's widely agreed that Hot Toddies are warming wintertime drinks that people often sip as a remedy for colds, coughs, sore throats and the flu. At other times, of course, toddy enthusiasts imbibe simply because it's a pleasingly sweet and aromatic wintertime drink.
Toddy's are always hot. Another point of agreement is that the Hot Toddy is alcoholic. Everyone has their own preference, but brandies, rums, and whiskeys are all popular. For some reason, toddy recipes that specifically call for Scotch whiskey are fairly rare—even though in Great Britain the drink apparently first became popular in Scotland.
The drink can be prepared with hot water, apple cider or, as in the recipe below, with tea, which imparts an added flavor and (according to some) aids in lessening the symptoms and duration of the common cold. Unfortunately, there's no medical evidence for this. On the other hand, there's no better evidence for anything else helping to cure a cold either. Among possibly useless remedies, the Hot Toddy is at least pleasant.
- 1 cup water, either filtered or unfiltered.
- Optional: 5 cloves
- Optional: 1 stick cinnamon
- Optional: 1 piece star anise
- 1 tablespoon black tea (preferably a strong Keemun black tea)
- 1 tablespoon honey (preferably a strong, dark honey)
- 2 ounces brandy, dark rum or whiskey, such as Jameson Irish Whiskey
- 1 wedge lemon
- Combine water and spices in a pot.
- Bring water to just below boiling and remove from heat.
- Add tea leaves.
- Steep for 4 minutes, and then strain into a large mug.
- Stir in honey.
- Float brandy, rum or whiskey on the top of the drink.
- Squeeze lemon into the mug.
- Optional: Drop the lemon into the mug for a stronger citrus flavor.