Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hot Toddy

Hot toddy

Spring is soon to come. Birds are singing and the sun is peeking through the clouds more and more often. But before the sun decides to stay with us permanently and before the weather starts to be warm, we all have some more cold days to get through. Which means that some of us might still catch a cold during those few days. Most of you will then turn to your local pharmacist for medicine. There is a better solution; of course it is the hot toddy. This warm drink has been curing many bouts of flu and colds for decades. Medicine usually helps you get some sleep, which is essential when you want to heal from a cold. Well, a hot toddy not only helps you get to sleep, but also prevents you from being groggy in the morning. When you thought it did not have any more advantages, here are some more: the hot toddy is a natural remedy, plus it helps fight infections in your body. What more could we ask for?
Nowadays, people drink the hot toddy warm, as indicated by its name. But it was not always the case. This famous drink was once drunk cold. Where does the hot toddy come from and what are the origins of its name?

History of the drink and the name

There are many different theories about the origins of the hot toddy. Of course, a lot of them are more absurd than others. We will focus on the more plausible and popular one as the true origins are a big mystery.
The word toddy gets its origin from the early seventeenth century. It comes from the Hindi word tārī. It was a drink. The fermented sap from many toddy palms was used to make this drink. The British discovered it and could not stop drinking it. Eventually, they continued to spread it and made it their own. At the time, the toddy was different from the hot toddy we know today and it was drunk cold. A different version from the toddy that made its way across the ocean to America was called bombo or bimbo. It was made out of rum, local sugar and local spices.
When did the toddy become warm then? In Scotland, the population started to add warm water to the toddy to use it as a remedy for a cold. That is where the hot toddy as we know it today gets its origin from. Of course, Scottish people did not only drink the hot toddy when they came down with a cold, but that was its first purpose.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the hot toddy was considered as THE cure for a cold. It was even considered as a “cure-all” in the Burlington free press in 1837, according to the VinePair website.

Other theories on the name

We have mentioned earlier that there were many origins attributed to the name of hot toddy. Here are a few of them:
  • In the eighteenth century, pubs became very popular in Western Europe, especially around the city of Edinburgh, which is the capital of Scotland. There, they supposedly served scotch with warm water coming from Tod’s Well. The word toddy should then be derived from the name Tod, which gave the drink its name. Spices were soon to be added to make the drink more drinkable for women.
  • This next theory is more of a legend, as we cannot confirm that this really happened and that the name gets its origin here. Apparently, in the middle of the nineteenth century, a physician named Robert Bentley Todd, who worked in Dublin, used to heel his patients by giving them a mixture of brandy, sugar and hot water. People assumed that the name came from him.
  • Another legend states that in America during the revolutionary war, colonists used to drink a toddy to bring them courage. The only difference with the Scottish toddy is that they used rum or brandy instead of whiskey.
It is very likely that the name hot toddy gets its origin in a mixture of these theories or that they are linked in some way. Perhaps the physician heard of the drink and started prescribing it to his patients.


We have been talking about the hot toddy for a little while now, but how is a toddy actually made? Is there a basic recipe to follow?
Of course, because the hot toddy is so famous, there are many variations of the drink and different ways to make it. Here is however the most simple and most common recipe to make a hot toddy. You will only need a few ingredients:
  • some kind of whiskey
  • warm water or warm tea
  • regular sugar or brown sugar
  • spices such as nutmeg or cloves
  • lemon
Now let’s take a look at some variations of the basic recipe.

  • The Yule Tide Toddy. This version of the drink adds maple syrup and a lot of cinnamon to the basic recipe. It makes it sweeter and therefore, impossible to let go off. Garnished with cinnamon sticks, it will be a pleasure for your mouth.
  • The Mexican Buttered Toddy. This kind of toddy is a “punch-in-your-face” kind of drink. It is very strong. In fact, the basic hot toddy is mixed with cocoa-infused tequila and buttered batter. This drink has a creamy texture thanks to the butter.
  • The Zen Chai Toddy. This toddy involves many kinds of tea including zen green tea and black tea. Added to this mixture, the Chai spices, which are made out of cardamom. This drink also has more of a creamy feeling than the others.
  • Chamomile Toddy. This kind has more fruit and sweetness to it because of the orange slice, the lemon juice, the honey and the chamomile that are added to it.
  • The Beale End All. Rum, sugar syrup, and orange are added to create this last recipe.

Fun fact

January 11th is the national hot toddy day, mark your calendars.


Manon Amel, Pauline Hurez and Magali Walrant

No comments: