Classic Hot Toddy Recipe

While most cocktails are served frozen, if not over ice, a classic hot toddy involves boiling water, similar to a mug of hot tea. But unlike tea, this drink contains alcohol, so if you're looking for the best warm cocktail, you've come to the right place. This recipe for a classic hot toddy, brought to us by recipe developer Michelle McGlinn, is one of our favorite winter drinks — but really, you can enjoy it at any time and during any season.

McGlinn notes that the hot toddy is not traditionally a winter drink, but explains that "it was used to cure colds and sore throats year round." McGlinn makes these when she starts "getting scratchy throats because the warm honey and lemon have such a nice, soothing effect while the whiskey helps you sleep." She adds that "we like to believe the whiskey has magical healing powers, but I think it's just nice to feel a buzz while you're under the weather." Whether you've got a cold or just want a cozy boozy beverage, you should try this recipe below.

Gather your ingredients for a classic hot toddy

To make this classic hot toddy cocktail, you'll want to make sure that you have the right ingredients. You will need boiling water, bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, honey, star anise pods, a cinnamon stick, and optional garnishes of lemon slices. McGlinn likes to utilize star anise in this drink as "it adds a depth to the honey and lemon, and pairs nicely with cinnamon which has such a straightfoward spiced flavor." If you're wondering where to purchase whole star anise pods, McGlinn notes that your local supermarket likely has them, but if not, "you may want to try an international market that sells whole seeds and pods."

Stir in the honey, lemon juice, and whiskey

First up, you will want to pour the honey, lemon juice, and whiskey into a mug. Using a spoon, stir to combine the ingredients until they are well incorporated. If whiskey isn't your thing, McGlinn adds that "the spirit used does not have to be bourbon whiskey. It is also traditionally made with scotch and brandy, and would be interestingly complex with a rye or a rum."

Pour in boiling water and infuse the cinnamon and star anise

Next, pour the boiling water over the mixture. McGlinn even suggests substituting "the water with fresh apple cider in the fall — it makes for a boozy spiced cider toddy and is so delicious!" Add the star anise pods and cinnamon stick to the hot mug. To infuse these flavors, make sure to allow this mixture to sit for at least 1 minute before taking a sip. Trust us, it's worth the wait!

Garnish with a star anise pod and a lemon slice

If you want to add a garnish, McGlinn recommends using a star anise pod and a lemon slice. She suggests poking the star anise pod stem through the lemon slice so the garnishes stick together. Float this garnish on top of the mug. Now, you can sip away. Keep things on the warm theme by pairing this hot toddy with a hot bowl of soup, or simply sip it on its own after a long day.

Classic Hot Toddy Recipe
5 from 38 ratings
If you're feeling chilly, this classic hot toddy will warm you right up.
Prep Time
Cook Time
hot toddy with lemon garnish
Total time: 5 minutes
  • ½ ounce honey
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon whiskey
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon slice, for garnish
  1. Pour the honey, lemon juice, and whiskey into a mug or glass with a handle. Stir, combining the ingredients until incorporated.
  2. Carefully pour the boiling water over the honey mixture, to the top of the glass. Add a star anise pod and cinnamon stick and stir to infuse. Allow the cocktail to sit for 1 minute, so the flavors can infuse.
  3. To garnish, use a star anise pod with the stem still attached and stick the stem into the lemon slice. Attach or float on drink.
Calories per Serving 189
Total Fat 0.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.2 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Total Sugars 13.5 g
Sodium 7.5 mg
Protein 1.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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