How to make the perfect Hot Toddy

Aaron Masonde, former manager of the Oblix at The Shard bar, reveals his warming, wintry recipe for the classic cocktail…

There are very few cocktails that can genuinely claim to have health benefits — but the Hot Toddy is one of them. Steaming and soothing, this classic cocktail is the perfect winter warmer, and was first mixed into being sometime in the 18th century, in India. 

Traditionally, the Hot Toddy is created using Irish whiskey, swirled together with lemon juice, hot water and some form of sugar — be it granulated, honey or even syrup. And, thanks to this blend of live-giving, immune system-boosting ingredients, it’s known to protect, soothe and numb in equal medicinal measure.

So, with winter upon us — not to mention a resurgence of this pesky pandemic — what better time to learn the art of the Hot Toddy? We’ve turned to Aaron Masonde, former manager of the Oblix at The Shard bar and brand ambassador for The Macallan, to teach us the curative ways of this classic cocktail.

What is a Hot Toddy?

“Simply,” says Masonde, “a Hot Toddy is made from whisky, hot water, lemon, honey and spices. Originally, it was seen as a remedy for cold and flu-like symptoms. So the benefits are vitamin C from the lemon, a soothing of the throat from the honey and a numbing from the whisky”.

Sounds pretty good to us. Masonde adds that the perfect time whip up the drink is during winter — “It’s traditionally mixed during the colder months of the year,” he says, “and in the evening…” — which makes the Christmas break the ideal time to get to grips with the complex, and often confusing recipe.

What ingredients are used to make a Hot Toddy?

While twists on the traditional recipe exist — with some suggesting rum or brandy as the spirit base — nothing beats whisky. As Masonde says, “whisky gains a great complexity and flavour profile from ageing in oak casks, and this pairs so well with the other ingredients of the Hot Toddy”.

And your choice of whisky, Masonde adds, should inform the other ingredients used in your Hot Toddy. Lemon juice and honey are a given, but the spices you choose to infuse your warming cocktail should be selected to bring out the best in your chosen base spirit.

“The spices should be chosen using the profile of the whisky to create the cocktail you want,” says Masonde. “As long as the spices compliment or contrast the character of the whisky, it’ll work as a combination. And this allows a wide spectrum of herbs and spices to come into the mix.”

How do you make the perfect Hot Toddy?

Below, you’ll find Masonde’s personal recipe — a Hot Toddy with ten flavourful ingredients he believes to be the best combination. From cocoa nibs to cardamom pods, it’s a pungent, potent list of spices and spirits to create a truly restorative drink. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 50ml The Macallan Harmony Collection: Rich Cacao
  • 2tsp Jing English Breakfast Tea
  • 200ml Boiling Hot Water
  • 1 bar spoon of Cocoa Nibs
  • Half a Cinnamon Stick
  • 3 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 5 Cloves
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 10 to 20ml Organic Honey (adjust for sweetness)
  • 10ml Fresh Lemon Juice

And here’s how to make it: “Place the spices into a pestle and lightly press them with a mortar,” says Masonde. “Then toast them for five minutes on a low-to-medium heat in a griddle pan, until they begin to release their natural oils. This will take approximately one minute — otherwise, wait until the spices are fragrant.

“Add the spices into a tea pot along with the tea, hot water, honey, and lemon,” he continues. “Allow it to percolate for around three minutes, no need to stir. Then, decant into a whisky glass over your whisky, and enjoy.”

This Hot Toddy Cocktail is available at the Macallan Manor House popup at the Rosewood Hotel until April 2022.

Want more seasonal drinks? Here are the best cocktails to serve this Christmas…

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