It's time to warm up with this classic and comforting hot toddy. It's made with your choice of bourbon, whiskey, or rum, a touch of honey, hot water, and fresh lemon juice. It's perfect for winter, and it's ready in under 5 minutes!

If you like hot toddies, you'll love our festive spiced cranberry hot toddy!

A hot toddy in a glass mug

It may not exactly be what the doctor ordered, but a classic hot toddy is sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Unlike a lot of winter cocktails, it's light and hydrating. It also happens to be easy to make!

All you need for this classic cocktail is hot water, fresh lemon juice, honey, and your choice of bourbon, whiskey, or rum. Stir it all together in a mug or glass, sip on it slowly, and you'll be feeling cozy in no time.

It's a very customizable drink so you can play around with the amount of honey and lemon juice you use. You can also swap the honey for maple syrup or brown sugar, and use other citrus fruit like orange or grapefruit instead of lemon. We like to serve it with a cinnamon stick for even more warm, sweater-weather vibes.

A hot toddy cocktail (sometimes called a hot taddy) is perfect for casual gatherings and cozy nights by the fireplace, or anytime you want to unwind with something warm in your hands. If you're fighting a cold or flu, enjoy it without the whiskey as a soothing, immune-boosting tonic.

What is a hot toddy?

A hot toddy is a mixed drink traditionally made from liquor, a sweetener like honey or sugar, hot water, and often lemon peel or other spices, and served hot. Its origins date back to the mid-18th century when it's said to have been consumed as a medicinal aid used to alleviate cold symptoms. The liquor helped numb pain and the lemon and honey soothed a sore throat. Nowadays it's enjoyed in the colder months as a way to warm up, or before retiring for the night.

Hot toddy with whiskey in a glass mug

What's in a hot toddy?

You only need 5 simple ingredients to make this hot toddy recipe. Here's what you need:

  • Whiskey, bourbon, or rum – whiskey is usually our go-to but bourbon and rum both work well, too.
  • Lemon juice – fresh is definitely best!
  • Honey – any type of honey will give this drink a wonderful sweetness. You can also use maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown sugar if that's what you have on hand.
  • Hot or boiling water
  • Lemon slice and cinnamon stick – these are optional, but we use them for garnish for added flavor and it makes them look more festive.

How to make a hot toddy

A hot toddy is a light and hydrating hot beverage that's as perfect for cozy nights at home as it is for casual gatherings. With just a few basic ingredients, it comes together quickly. Let's make one!

  1. Add your liquor of choice along with lemon juice and honey to a heat-safe glass or mug.
  2. Pour in the hot water and stir until the honey dissolves. At this point, you can taste it and add more honey or lemon juice, depending on your taste preference.
  3. Serve it hot with a lemon slice or lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick.

Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.

A hand holding a hot toddy.

FAQS

Are hot toddies good when you're sick?

Hot toddies were historically used as a medicinal aid where the liquor was meant to help numb pain and the lemon and honey helped soothe a sore throat. But medicine doesn't mix well with alcohol so skip the booze if you're taking any medication. The hot water, lemon, and honey (and rest) are all your body needs to heal.

What's the best alcohol for a hot toddy?

The ingredients in a hot toddy actually vary from region to region. In Ireland, they use Irish whiskey, in Scotland they use scotch. In North America, it's common to use bourbon, or whatever is in the liquor cabinet. If you're a fan of scotch or brandy, you can certainly try those as well.

Are there any hot toddy variations to try?

Yes! Besides choosing your favorite liquor, you can also switch up the citrus. Try lime, orange, or grapefruit, or a combination. You can also brew a cup of lemon tea and use that in place of the hot water. Another option to replace the water is to steep a tea bag, star anise, fresh ginger, and whole cloves.

More classic cocktails

Here are a few more of our favorite classic cocktails:

Two glasses of hot toddy for a cold in mugs with cinnamon sticks

Cozy warm cocktails

A hot toddy in a glass mug

Hot Toddy

It's time to warm up with this classic and comforting hot toddy. It's made with your choice of bourbon, whiskey, or rum, a touch of honey, hot water, and fresh lemon juice. It's perfect for winter, and it's ready in under 5 minutes!

If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!

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Ingredients

  • 1 ounce whiskey, bourbon, or rum
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh is best!
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • Lemon slice and cinnamon stick, to serve

Instructions 

  • Add your choice of alcohol, the lemon juice, and honey to a heatproof glass.
    1 ounce whiskey, bourbon, or rum, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey, ¾ cup hot water
    image for recipe instruction
  • Pour the hot water into the mug and stir until the honey dissolves.
    image for recipe instruction
  • Garnish with a lemon slice and cinnamon stick.
    Lemon slice and cinnamon stick
    image for recipe instruction
Serving: 1 hot toddy, Calories: 138kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 0.1g, Fat: 0.04g, Saturated Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 27mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 0.1mg
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