The humble Hot Toddy isn’t as flashy as an Old Fashioned. It’s not as debonair as a Martini and it’s not as elegant as a Sazerac. Perhaps that’s why it’s been relegated to the “comforting” section of the cocktail world.

As the National Brand Ambassador for Johnnie Walker, and a former bartender at Eau De Vie and Seamstress, Sean Baxter has the lowdown on this perfect winter drink.

“The word ‘toddy’ actually refers to a fermented coconut sap that colonials in India were drinking in the 1600s,” says Baxter.

“When they got back to freezing England and Scotland, they started heating it up. The type of spirit used didn’t matter, so you’d drink a hot gin toddy in London and a hot whisky toddy in Edinburgh.”

For his classic toddy, Baxter likes to keeps it strong and simple, sticking to the template of spirit (Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve), sweetener (creamed honey) and boiling water, garnished with some bruised thyme.

When he wants to mix it up, Baxter draws on his grandmother, Elwyn’s, old recipe, replacing the boiling water with ginger beer and adding fresh grated ginger for a stronger punch.

“At the end, I’ll use a steam wand (from a coffee machine) to heat the whole thing up,” says Baxter, who recommends making sure the wand doesn’t have any old milk on it (an unwanted garnish). “Otherwise, you can just throw the whole thing in the microwave.”

While the toddy isn’t commonly featured on bars’ printed menus, Baxter recommends asking your local bartender to whip one up – you might just be surprised.

“They’re a bit like Bloody Marys,” he says. “Everyone has their own personal twist.”


Sean Baxter’s Classic Hot Toddy
Approximately 2 standard drinks.

Ingredients:
30ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch Whisky
75ml boiling water
15ml creamed honey
Garnish with bruised thyme

Method:
Blend all ingredients into glass. Add hot water, stir. Garnish to taste.

Elwyn’s Ginger Elixir
Approximately 2 standard drinks.

Ingredients:
30ml Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch Whisky
150ml ginger beer
1 tsp honey
1 pinch of grated ginger
Squeeze of lemon juice
Garnish with a cinnamon quill

Method:
Blend all ingredients into glass. Heat with steam wand or microwave. Garnish with cinnamon quill.