I was first introduced to the concept of the hot toddy by my friend George, who is one of the best bartenders you will ever know. I wandered into my local one afternoon, slightly sniffly and bedraggled, not sure I should be out at all because of my clearly impending case of plague, but not quite sick enough yet to give up and head home to bed.
George was behind the bar, and at the first croak of my scratchy voice he put down the pint glass that he had been about to slip under the Guinness tap for me, and instead put the kettle on to boil and started studding the rind of a lemon wedge with cloves as I sat there mutely wondering what was going on. Into a glass mug he poured a good glug of Jameson’s, a barspoonful of honey, a squeeze of lemon, the clove studded lemon wedge, topped it all off with the boiling water and then placed the remedy in front of me with the simple command to “just drink it.” My first hot whiskey was certainly not my last, on that day even. And well I’m uncertain of the promised and purported medicinal properties, there is no doubt of the comfort and solace a toddy provides. Also after a few, I totally forget that I’m sick, so there’s that.
It’s not just physical ailments a good hot toddy can cure. They also offer comfort and solace against the doldrums of the dark cold winter. This particularly endless winter has been a perfect time for warming cocktails. There have been few weeks where the dolor and distress of trudging home through snow and slush cannot be counteracted by a little warm whiskey and spice. This bourbon-clementine-ginger mixture began with what I had on hand, but has emerged as the winner that we are apparently drinking through the spring.
A good glug of bourbon, about a tablespoon of ginger syrup leftover from my candied ginger making adventures, and the juice from half a clementine get put in a cup with some chopped candied ginger, then topped with about 2 ounces of boiling water. Simple succor.