Sugar in hot water cornbread? Not in the South! We consider that to be rank blasphemy.
One good recipe for hot water cornbread is to combine a cup of white cornmeal mix (already has the baking soda, etc. in it) with about two tablespoons of milk or half and half, and about 3/4 cup boiling water. This makes a batter about like pancake batter, which is the ideal consistency.
As always, cornbread -- hot water or otherwise -- should be cooked in a cast iron skillet. Nothing else produces the same golden, crispy exterior.
As a history lesson, many cooks made hot water cornbread because they didn't have eggs or milk, and had to be sparing with their baking soda and salt. This was a good alternative.