hot toddy cocktail

Hot Toddy

You’ve got a cold and it’s getting you down? Time to reach for this Hot Toddy recipe to ease your discomfort and heal faster. You may have heard of a hot toddy or a hot tottie as they are sometimes referred to but aren’t sure what they are good for.

a hot toddy cocktail on a grey kitchen towel

Easy & Warming Hot Toddy Cocktail

There’s just something about whiskey that makes any cold feel not quite so horrible. I mean, sure the buzz is nice, but it seems to alleviate more than just needing to unwind and relax to heal.

History would point to the fact that there is some truth in that. As the story goes, the original hot toddy was created in India in the 1610s! But it was a bit different than the official hot toddy recipe that we make today. 

However, that recipe has still been with us for quite some time. In 1786 the drink became official and is pretty much the same as the hot toddy cocktails we drink today.

If people have been turning to warm whiskey with a special blend of ingredients for well over 200 years there has to be something to it.


Do Hot Toddies Really Cure A Cold?

Hot toddies are a classic winter cocktail made with whiskey, hot water, honey, spices, and lemon. While drinking one won’t necessarily cure you of a cold, it certainly has the potential to make you feel warmer and more relaxed. In fact, there is actually some scientific backing to the healing properties of a hot toddy. Let’s learn about how each can help you kick that cold.

  • Whiskey – Of course, whiskey is the star ingredient in any hot toddy recipe. But it can actually help soothe your colds. The whiskey has numbing properties to aid with a sore throat and helps to dull any other aches and pains you may be suffering from. Additionally, it is a great decongestant. The heated drink helps break up mucus and the whiskey itself dilates your blood vessels which aids in healing.
  • Lemon – Lemon contains a lot of vitamin C which is great for your immune system, but it is even more beneficial than that. It may help to ease a sore throat, loosen congestion, and even shorten the length of your cold.
  • Clove – This superfood pack a wallop of goodness for fighting your cold because they are antiviral, analgesic, antibacterial, and even anti-inflammatory.
  • Optional Ingredient: Honey – Honey is well known to aid with illness. It is super soothing to your throat and honey is also antimicrobial and antibiotic. But not all kinds of honey are created equal. In order to reap all the health benefits from your honey you will want raw unfiltered honey.

So it’s safe to say that a hot toddy does a lot more than numb out your pain while you are sick.

Each ingredient in the hot toddy recipe very much can help comfort your cold symptoms and aid in speeding your recovery.

ingredients to make a hot toddy cocktail

What You’ll Need

Gathering up “cold medicine” has never been easier than running around your kitchen like you can to round up the necessary ingredients to make a hot toddy. 

  • Lemon – You’re going to want to slice one up for this recipe.
  • Lemon juice – I always suggest using freshly squeezed lemon juice if possible. Not only does it taste remarkably better than bottled lemon juice, but it will contain more nutrients when it is squeezed fresh as well. This can be important if you are using this recipe to help you kick a cold.
  • Whiskey – See the next section for the best types to use.
  • Hot water
  • Clove – You just need clove powder for this recipe.

What’s The Best Whiskey For A Hot Toddy?

When it comes to choosing the best whiskey for a hot toddy, you want something that’s smooth and easy to drink. Traditional recipes call for Bourbon or Scotch whisky, but Irish whiskey, Canadian whiskey, and even Japanese whiskey are also great choices. 

Although whiskey is required for your classic hot toddy recipe (and my personal favorite way to make it) even brandy or even rum can be used instead. You just want a dark liquor.

lemon slices sprinkled with clove

How to Make a Hot Toddy

This hot toddy recipe is as easy to make as brewing yourself some soothing tea but contains even more cold-kicking properties.

  • Boil the water. First start boiling some water on the stove (or any other method is fine too).
  • Get a heat-safe glass or mug. Pour the whiskey first into a heat-safe glass. 
  • Juice your lemon. Then add the fresh lemon juice on top of the whiskey. 
  • Add the hot water. Remove the water from the heat source you used to boil it and pour the hot water over the whiskey/lemon mixture.
  • Slice your other lemon. Then sprinkle a lemon slice with clove and add it to the glass. The lemon will infuse with the hot water and cloves. 

Serving Suggestions

This recipe is to make a glass at a time as needed for your cold, or just to relax and boost your immune system in the chilly fall and winter months. If you are making this recipe for multiple people simply double or triple the recipe as needed.

easy and warm hot toddy cocktail with a lemon wheel on a dark grey kitchen towel

Tips & Variations

One great thing about making yourself a hot toddy is that there are a lot of variations that you can make.

  • You can add a tablespoon of raw unfiltered honey to your hot toddy for added sweetness, to reduce the pain of a sore throat even further, and to fight germs.
  • You can add a shot of ginger liqueur to the recipe for additional cold-soothing benefits. If you don’t have that on hand you can also add very thin slices of ginger to your water while boiling it. Ginger is great for soothing your stomach or a sore throat, and for reducing inflammation.
  • As most citrus fruits have a lot of vitamin C you can switch out the lemon slices and juice with another citrus fruit like orange, grapefruit, or even lime if you’d like.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg both hold the same powerful nutritional properties as clove and can bring wonderful seasonal flavors into your drink as well. You can sprinkle your citrus with the ground spices, add a clove to your hot glass, or stir your hot toddy with a cinnamon stick.

Can This Be Made in Advance?

You can absolutely make a hot toddy (or a lot of them together) in advance minus the hot water of course. Mix all your ingredients and store them in an airtight jar in the fridge or even on the counter for a couple of hours. Letting your hot toddy sit will allow the lemon and spices to infuse into the whiskey even further. 

When you are ready for another glass or to serve your guests simply bring the hot toddy mix to room temperature and then add some boiling water to serve. 

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hot toddy cocktail

Hot Toddy

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You’ve got a cold and it’s getting you down? Time to reach for this hot toddy recipe to ease your discomfort and heal faster.

  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x


  • 1 slice of lemon
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • Hot water
  • 1/3 teaspoon clove


    1. Boil water in a tea kettle, on the stove, or in an eletric tea kettle. 
    2. Pour the whiskey in to a glass. Add in lemon juice. Pour in hot water. 
    3. Top lemon slice with clove and add to the glass. The lemon will infuse with the hot water and cloves.
  • Author: Easy Party Cocktails
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Additional Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Category: Easy Winter Cocktails
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 133
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 14
  • Fat: 0
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 2
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 0
  • Cholesterol: 0

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