Warm and soothing sips to fix up what ‘ails ya.
January 11 is National Hot Toddy Day, and I’m loving the excuse to drink a toasty libation. For the unfamiliar, a Hot Toddy is made with liquor and water or tea, spices and some kind of a sweetening agent (sugar or honey are most common), served warm. Recipes vary, and are traditionally enjoyed before going to bed, or in especially chilly or damp weather. They were once touted to relieve cold or flu symptoms and let’s face it, even if they don’t, they are comfort in a mug.
Mixologist Chantal Tseng of The Tabard Inn (1739 N. St. NW, 202.785.1277), who is always a whiz with warming tipples anyway—she adores tea, and deftly mixes and ignites a mean Café Brûlot—has collaborated with the Tabard’s other bartenders, and offers an entire menu devoted to the Toddy today. It would be heavenly to enjoy any of these steaming sips on a cushy sofa in front of the Tabard’s fireplace.
She calls the Build-Your-Own-Toddy ($10) “the choose your own adventure of Toddy land.” Guests select Bourbon, Rye, Brandy or another spirit of their preference, along with a sweetener (honey, agave or maple), and either hot water, Chamomile tea or Rooibos Chai Tea. All combinations are served with a slice of lemon, lemon peel, and a cinnamon stick.
Tseng’s own Spanish Toddy ($11) mixes Spanish Brandy, East India Sherry, honey syrup, lemon, hot water, orange peel and a cinnamon stick. The Timbuk-Tea Toddy ($12), created by Timothy Burt, uses Apple Estate Rum, fresh orange juice, HUM liqueur, Assam hot tea and a lime wheel.
Finally, for anyone with a hankering for heat—or in need of a sinus clearer—the Pho Full Metal Jacket Toddy ($12) by Patrick Owens blends Old Overholt Rye, a Sriracha-Pho-spiced syrup, Green Chartreuse, lime, hot water and a star anise garnish. Tseng also shared the recipe with me if Washington Life if you want to try it at home:
Pho Full Metal Jacket Toddy
Courtesy of Patrick Owens, The Tabard Inn, Washington, D.C.
1.5 oz. Old Overholt Rye
½ oz. Sriracha syrup (see Note)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
¼ oz. Green Chartreuse
Star anise pod or Thai basil, for garnish
Add Rye, syrup, lime juice and Green Chartreuse to a mug. Fill with hot water, and stir gently. Garnish with the star anise pod or Thai basil.
For the Sriracha syrup:
1 cup palm sugar
1 cup water
½ tbsp. white pepper
½ tbsp. Szechuan pepper
1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
3 star anise pods
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tbsp. fennel
Flash roast the cloves and peppercorns. Lightly crush the peppercorns, and then add to a pot with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out solids, and store the syrup in the refrigerator.
And if you want to go back to basics, here is my go-to Toddy recipe, which I have tweaked over the years:
Kelly’s Hot Toddy
Courtesy of Kelly Magyarics, wine and spirits writer, Washington, D.C.
1 ½ oz. Irish Whiskey, Brandy, Cognac or Dark Rum
1 lemon slice
1 orange slice
4 oz. hot brewed tea (orange spice works well, but apple cinnamon or Chamomile would be nice too)
1 star anise pod (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
Honey, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Place the lemon and orange slice in the bottom of a mug, and muddle. Add your spirit of choice, the star anise and the cloves, and top with the hot brewed tea. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and freshly grated nutmeg. Wrap yourself up in a blanket or Snuggie, and enjoy.