Hot Scotch, a Toddy Hot

The word “cold” can be a harbinger of bad: cold weather, head cold, cold shoulder. Whatever cold may exist there is little so frigid that it cannot be warmed by one of society’s earliest forms of refined mixology. The Hot Toddy.

Right as a two week onslaught of madness was ending, what else? I got sick. Aside from popular belief, I actually am not one to medicate sickness with alcohol, but seeing how this has been stifling, the weeks long, the posts thin and the need to reinvigorate all things pressing; maybe I should?

I did, and what an opportunity this presented. Toddies hot when the chill sets in, they say, whether that chill comes from the outside or in matters not–when the chill comes, medicate with Toddy. David Wondrich has many a-fine thing to say about Toddies Hot. In Imbibe! he dedicates a fair chapter to the genre, weaving such wonderful prose the likes of

The mixture of spirits, hot or cold water, sugar, and perhaps a scraping of nutmeg is the irreducible minimum of true mixology.


Under the proper circumstances, a Hot Toddy–particularly one constructed upon a foundation of good Highland malt whisky–is one of the clearest signs I know that there is a providential plan to the universe.

Heavy words, Mr. Wondrich. Understood, though, for Toddies are an immaculate thing. Sweet, velvety soothers for all that ail you, albeit in your throat, lungs or heart–a well-made Toddy can warm the shrillest of colds. Not only that, but the drink is historical to the point of preceding the United States, 1750 by its earliest notation. Though in it, like most things alcohol-mixed, it has found a cultural home when either the air becomes brisk and trees cannot hold their leaves, or the skin shudders with chills and cannot hold the body’s heat. Toddy hot has come with rum, bourbon, rye, brandy, Scotch, Irish and even some Holland’s Gin; but I was intrigued when I learned that a peaty Scotch (may) make for a sensory Shangri-la.

Hot Scotch

  • 1 lump of sugar
  • 3 oz hot water
  • 2 oz Scotch

Put the sugar in the mug and pour the hot water in. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and stir in the Scotch.

A few things to note here:

  • I did not use a mug. This sickness crept up on me and I am sans clear mug in the house, so for the point of this shoot, I used a snifter;
  • Toddies are fair game, sweeten, strengthen or (gasp) dilute to your preferred taste;
  • This is one in a genre that I will cover much more in-depth as we get further into the cold days;
  • Wondrich does not lie; a peaty, single malt Scotch whisky makes for an amazing Toddy.

While we here in California are still blessed with the hot days, the temperatures at college football games around the nation have noticeably been dropping (my version of Doppler). For those in the cold climates, there are few joys, few blessings, few gifts more welcomed than a cold night snapped by the silky-sweet of Toddies hot–the simplest of simples for cold temps and cold coughs. With the use of a Peaty, single malt, we are fortunate that cocktails did indeed evolve, because your first good Hot Scotch may be the last drink you’ll ever need.

9 responses to “Hot Scotch, a Toddy Hot

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  5. Made these last night w/ Lagavulin (for a backyard campout). Fantastic- a huge success. The scotch fans liked it and non-scotch drinkers loved the softened, but still smoky/peaty flavor…Thanks!

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