What is a Hot Toddy?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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A hot toddy is a drink that is usually associated with relieving the symptoms of colds or sore throats. It is a spirit-based drink with an added sweetener, such as honey or sugar. As well as being used for medicinal purposes, the toddy can also be used to help a person relax in the evening. It is also used when people have been exposed to cold weather or have incurred a shock to the system.

There are varied accounts of the origins of the hot toddy. Popular thinking holds that this drink came from Britain by way of India. In India, the juice of certain palm trees was called tari. This juice was made into a dark, sweet alcoholic drink. The English in India at the time replicated the drink by using spices, fruit, and alcohol and introduced it to Britain.

Variations on the drink itself are abundant. The main alcohol used is usually some form of whiskey, but different types of alcohol are acceptable. A hot toddy can be used to relax after a shock, and this effect is mainly accomplished by the alcohol.


A hot toddy can also be used to relax a person before bed time, and this again is accomplished by the alcohol's affect on the system. The alcohol is mixed with hot water and a sweet substance, such as sugar or honey. If you have a sore throat, then the honey will coat the throat and stop the irritation. The alcohol will also have a soothing effect that will help a person sleep.

This beverage has long been used as a cheap home medicine. If you look at the ingredients in many cough mixtures, you will notice that alcohol is one of the main ingredients used. Alcohol is absorbed very quickly into the blood stream and has a pain relieving effect. Citrus fruits are often used in toddies as well. The vitamins in citrus fruits are thought to help combat the common cold.

Spices are another additive used to make a hot toddy. Cinnamon and cloves are very popular as a way to give the drink some extra flavor. The main liquid in a hot toddy is usually hot water, but variations include lemonade, cider, tea, and coffee.

Once the hot toddy has been warmed and mixed, all that is left is to drink it. Some people claim that sipping it slowly has a more beneficial, warming effect. Others claim that knocking the drink back in one gulp gives a jolt to the system that is helpful if taken after a shock. Of course, the amount of alcohol used is the main factor in whether the drink is relaxing or a stimulating kick to the system.


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Post 5

While the thought of these drinks often brings to mind things like a whiskey hot toddy, you can make something sort of like a non alcoholic hot toddy if you are trying to avoid alcohol. One of the common recipes for this involved using lemon juice and honey with the tea, cloves, and other spices; another variation for a cider hot toddy is to use hot, nonalcoholic cider with the tea rather than alcoholic cider.

Post 4

Hot toddies are in many ways similar to things like wassail or mead, though the difference is that hot toddies are usually only made in individual servings; there are probably not many hot toddy recipes for making large amounts at once.

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