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Hot Toddy on wooden table with leaves

Forget Pumpkin Spice Latte Season – It’s Hot Toddy Season! There is a chill in the air, and the days are getting shorter. There is nothing better than a nice warm Hot Toddy in your hands. It is an old-school hot drink made with whiskey, lemon, honey and spices. In this post, I will give you my favorite Hot Toddy recipe.


Through bartender lore, an Irish friend, and my Grandmother, I had always heard The Hot Toddy was a home remedy to overcome a cold or the flu. I remember the instructions were to drink one Hot Toddy to cure your cold and another to go to sleep. (Or maybe I made that up) Knowing this was lore and not fact-checked, I did some research. A few versions of where the Hot Toddy originated are documented; One says India, another Ireland, and Scotland. If you would like to read more about the origin of the Hot Toddy, check out this post from Town & Country

Does it Cure a Cold?

Does the Hot Toddy cure a cold and the flu? Throughout history, whiskey has been prescribed as medicine for a myriad of ailments. In 1918, it was given to patients who had the Spanish flu. Josie Mabel Brown, a US Naval nurse recounts her time tending to patients of the deadly 1918 pandemic:

“There were so many patients we didn’t have time to treat them. We didn’t take temperatures; we didn’t even have time to take blood pressure. We would give them a little hot whiskey toddy; that’s about all we had time to do.”

World War I Document Archive via Saumya Ancheri, Conde Nast

Although the Hot Toddy’s medicinal properties may be debated in modern times, we do know the common ingredients have benefits:

  • Spirits will make you sleepy, and sleep is essential when you are sick. 
  • Lemon contains Vitamin C and other antimicrobial components.
  • Cloves contain anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Honey has long been touted as soothing to a sore throat.
  • Warm water will also soothe a sore throat and aid with congestion.
Hot Toddy on wooden table

The Recipes

There are many Hot Toddy recipes. The most traditional containing whiskey, lemon, honey and spices. Some recipes use bourbon in lieu of whiskey. I have even seen a recipe that uses maple syrup in place of honey. (Canada, eh?) The following is my go-to recipe. I make when I have guests over on a cold evening. It is always a hit, and almost everyone asks for another one. I do sometime make this when I have a cold as well, but in that case I often make a non-alcoholic version. If you are interested in that check out my post.

Traditionally, the Hot Toddy is served in a clear, heat-safe glass mug. I use the double walled glass by Ovalware. It keeps your drink warm but doesn’t burn your hands. Whichever version of the Hot Toddy you choose or whatever you drink it out of, enjoy it and know that you are drinking a beverage rich in history and flavor.

Hot Toddy

Course: Drinks
Keyword: hot drinks, hot toddy, medicinal drinks
Servings: 1
This is a traditional Hot Toddy recipe with a slight twist using honey liquor versus honey. It is a hit with guests and will keep you toasty warm on a cold evening.
Print Recipe


  • tea kettle
  • knife and cutting board
  • spoon
  • 12-ounce heat safe glass or mug


  • ½ ounce Irish whiskey you could substitute any whiskey or bourbon
  • ounce Bärenjäger Honey Liquor
  • 1 lemon
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 English or Irish Breakfast teabag
  • 8 ounce water


  • Boil water in the tea kettle.
  • While water is boiling, slice a lemon into round slices.
  • Insert cloves into the flesh of the lemon slices.
  • Poor hot water over the teabag in glass and steep for 2 minutes, remove the teabag.
  • Measure the spirits and pour into the tea, stir with a spoon.
  • Garnish with the lemon and clove garnish.


If you are drinking this for medicinal purposes take out the honey liquor and use raw honey and put in 1 oz of whiskey.  Be careful when pouring, serving and drinking any hot beverage. As with any cocktail, please drink responsibly. 
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Carrie Mayer Boston Pilates Instructor smiling

Carrie is a Massachusetts-based Pilates and Wellness professional who believes in training smart and enjoying all that life has to offer.