A Taste for Toddies

As Old Man Winter blows  snow and wind across our paths and we nestle in during the quiet dark nights, one drink is certain to warm our bones, clear our colds  and put a little fire in our bellies: the hot toddy.

January 11 is National Hot Toddy Day. While I grew up sipping toddies as a youngster under the guise of “clearing up a cold,” as an adult I had little time to think about toddies.  My mind and taste buds drifted off into the vineyards and wine. But the wrath of this year’s winter has had me yearning for a warm cup of tea, a mug of cocoa or a glass of  spirited toddy.

Photo: Shannon Graham.
Photo: Shannon Graham.

By definition, a “toddy”  is a hot drink consisting of water, sugar, lemon, spices and the spirit of your choice, usually rum or scotch whisky.  I am a whiskey woman from back in the days when my father served me Rock & Rye to fight a cold, one of the few times I could imbibe beverage alcohol as a young girl under legal drinking age.

According to the website Punchbowl, “Hot toddies originated in Scotland sometime during the 18th century. While the exact details are unknown, historians believe that the recipe was developed to make the taste of Scotch whiskey more palatable. (Apparently the women of the day didn’t care for the smoky, peat flavor.) One theory suggests that the word “toddy” evolved from “Tod’s well” (also known as Todian Spring), the water supply for Edinburgh.”   Full article:

The Toddy, like the Martini, has had a lot of cocktail accessorizing over the years, with multiple twists, including recipes I found online using  non traditional ingredients like Siracha, frozen blackberries and pomegranate juice.

traditinal toddyCocktail historian and  author of Imbibe Dave Wondrich, a toddy traditionalist, bemoans the souped-up toddy in this post on and provides his own true toddy recipe (a.k.a “whisky skin”) noting:  ” Fortunately, there’s another name for a traditional toddy: a “Whisky Skin.” Back in the daguerreotype days that’s what it was called. (The “skin” part coming from the lemon peel and the “whisky” part meaning they liked it best with Scotch.)”  Full article:

And then there’s the toddy technique:  Spirits writer Jason Wilson, author of  Boozehound, provides this toddy tip in his 2010 article in The Washington Post: ” The first, most important tidbit of toddy technique to learn is this: Always rinse the mug with hot water to warm it before adding any ingredient.” Full article:

There are numerous “how to make a toddy” videos and posts online. spirits writer Colleen Graham offers this easy version of a tea ‘n toddy

However you prefer your toddy, traditional or contemporary, tipple well this winter and, like many of us, toast to longer, warmer days ahead!


By Melanie Young

The Connected Table is a media production company, radio show, podcast and blog specializing in wine, food and travel. Listen to The Connected Table LIVE and The Connected Table SIPS on iHeart and other major podcast platforms. Melanie Young and David Ransom are wine and food specialists, speakers and writers. We are experts in helping brands promote their products, destinations and services through custom content.