Culinary Arts

Classic Hot Toddy Recipe and Cocktail History

Written by MasterClass

Mar 6, 2019 • 1 min read

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On winter nights, nothing beats a hot toddy for cozy, cold weather comfort.


What Is a Hot Toddy?

The traditional hot toddy formula is simple:

  • A base liquor (usually whiskey)
  • Honey
  • Lemon
  • Tea

Believed to have been invented in 1700s Scotland, the hot toddy is a go-to cocktail especially around Christmas-time, when immune systems are down and social commitments are way, way up. The citrus and tea mixed with whiskey or bourbon have long been thought to provide warmth and healing.

The hot toddy is alternately called a hot whiskey (in Ireland), and you may also know it’s rum-based relative, the grog. Make substitutions with whatever you’ve got, as long as it’s something rich with warm, wintery spices, like apple cider.

Hot Toddy Ingredients

Depending on preference (and what you’ve got on hand), hot toddies might vary slightly. That’s a good thing! As long as it’s hot, and warms you up down to your bones, you’ve done it.

Liquors may include:

  • Brandy
  • Dark rum
  • Bourbon
  • Rye whiskey


  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Brown sugar. If using brown sugar, muddle with the lemon juice at the bottom of the mug before adding the liquor and tea to create a syrupy consistency.

Classic Hot Toddy Recipe

1 Drink
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min

This whiskey drink is festive enough for a holiday party and low-key enough for nights when you’ve just got a sore throat (it does have Vitamin C!).

  • 1 ½ ounces whiskey (or dark spirit of choice)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tea bag, preferably a black tea like Earl Grey
  • Cinnamon stick, star anise, and/or lemon slice for garnish
  1. Add tea bag to a coffee mug full of hot water and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a warm glass mug, add the sweetener. Add spirit, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
  3. When tea has steeped, remove bag and pour into the glass mug. Mix well. Garnish with aromatics: a whole cinnamon stick, a star anise, a lemon peel studded with whole cloves, or a slice of lemon.