Soothing Hot Toddy Recipe

Updated January 28, 2022
hot toddy with lemon and cinnamon


  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce honey
  • 1-2 dashes cinnamon bitters
  • Hot water to top off
  • Cinnamon stick, clove pierced lemon wheel, and star anise for garnish


  1. Warm a mug by filling with hot water.
  2. After mug is warm to touch, pour out the water.
  3. In the mug, combine the whiskey, lemon juice, honey, and bitters.
  4. Top off with hot water.
  5. Stir to combine well.
  6. Garnish with cinnamon stick, clove pierced lemon wheel, and star anise.

Variations and Substitutions

A hot toddy is a very personal drink, and it can vary from occasion to occasion, whether you're trying to warm up or soothe a scratchy throat, there's a tweak to make it just right.

  • Experiment with rye and bourbons, as well as different flavors of whiskey such as cinnamon or walnut.
  • Instead of whiskey, give rum or vodka try.
  • Skip the bitters completely or give other flavors a try, such as walnut, lemon, or molasses.
  • Use freshly brewed black tea instead of plain hot water for a more complex hot toddy.


The traditional hot toddy garnish can have a lot of components, but there's no need to stress if you're missing a piece or two. Keep in mind you can keep it simple, so you can use most of the components on their own, just a lemon slice, just a cinnamon stick, just a star anise. Maybe skip the cloves on their own, in order to prevent swallowing them unexpectedly. Another option is an orange slice or wheel instead of a lemon wheel.

About the Hot Toddy

The hot toddy is most often enjoyed in the winter or when someone is feeling under the weather, although that's a tricky decision as alcohol can dehydrate the body and when you're ill, you want all the hydration. But it must help somehow as this cocktail is still being sipped after its first iteration in the 1700s. The first recipe was nothing more than a liquor or spirit and sugar topped off with hot water.

While the hot toddy typically uses bourbon, some use scotch, others gin, and even vodka. Like most drinks that have been around for hundreds of years, the hot toddy was deemed medicinal, sure to cure a sore throat, chest cold, or any other ailment that caused a fever and chills.

The Cocktail Cough Medicine

The hot toddy is definitely not the answer to curing any virus or flu, but if you have a light cold and you're skipping the cold medicine, a hot toddy can alleviate some symptoms, albeit briefly. Its mystical medicinal help aside, there's no better way to warm up on a cold evening than with a hot toddy.

Soothing Hot Toddy Recipe