When it’s cold outside and the nights are long I’m always thirsty for a warm hot toddy to warm my hands (and feet) and this Cinnamon Toddy fits the bill. It’s endlessly variable by swapping out the tea you use to make it. My first iteration used a ginger tea, the second a cinnamon tea, and the third was a maple spice tea. All three were warm and comforting, just as a toddy should be.
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What’s in a Hot Toddy?
The toddy is a very old cocktail, and a very simple one. In its most basic form, the toddy is hot water, spirit, sugar (usually honey) and a bit of citrus (usually lemon). It’s served in a warm mug and meant to keep the chills at bay.
For a long time, it was considered a medicinal drink. Whiskey, brandy and spirits were considered medicine, and adding some honey and spices could soothe cold symptoms. Even in my childhood a hot toddy was something to soothe sore throats, coughs and get a good night’s sleep. Whiskey wasn’t always added, but when it was, it was no stronger than a dose of Nyquil for the kids.
Today, though, with the rise of whiskey, the hot toddy is a comfort drink. You wrap cold fingers around it and sip slowly while reading, watching a fire or binging TV.
Cinnamon Syrup for the Cinnamon Toddy
While you can use cinnamon tea as well as cinnamon syrup, the beauty of a toddy is its endless variation of bases and sweeteners. For this toddy, I used a simple, cinnamon-infused syrup to create the aromas that waft off the top of the warm drink.
Making a cinnamon-infused simple syrup is delightfully easy. Simply combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup sugar, add in 4 cracked cinnamon sticks and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cinnamon infuse until cooled to room temperature. Strain out the cinnamon sticks and store in the fridge in a clean glass jar.
If you’d rather, you could add some cinnamon sticks to maple syrup instead. Put the sticks in the maple syrup in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, or until you love the amount of cinnamon coming from the syrup. Strain out the cinnamon sticks and store the syrup in a clean glass jar in the fridge.
Ingredients for this Cinnamon Toddy
In addition, to the cinnamon syrup, you need fresh lemon juice, whiskey, and a bar spoon of maple syrup. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is the hot tea base for the cocktail. I went with a ginger tea, but it worked wonderfully with cinnamon, winter spice and orange teas as well.
Choose a tea you love with some flavors of the season. Toddies are very forgiving as a cocktail, and if you love a flavor combination with cinnamon, if you can find that in tea form it’ll be an amazing combination.
How to Make a Cinnamon Toddy Like Mom Used to Make
Toddies are built in the mug, making them very easy to do, but you absolutely must heat the mug first. If you don’t your toddy will quickly turn luke-warm and won’t be the star of your evening.
Warm your mug by filling it with piping hot water while you gather your ingredients and make the tea. You can make the tea in the mug, but leave room for 3-4 oz at the top).
Once the mug is warm and the tea brewed, add lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, bourbon and maple and stir. Top with your hot tea and stir it again. This cocktail is best garnished with a lemon peel or wheel and a cinnamon stick.
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
- 2 oz bourbon or rye
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- 1 oz cinnamon syrup **
- Bar Spoon maple syrup
- 4 drops cardamom bitters (optional)
- Top with hot ginger or winter-spiced tea
- Garnish: lemon peel and cinnamon stick
- Warm a heat-proof mug. Once warmed, add whiskey, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, biiters and a bar spoon of maple syrup. Top with hot ginger or winter-spiced tea. Garnish with lemon peel or cinnamon stick.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cracked cinnamon sticks