How to Make the Best Hot Toddy

There is no better drink for the cool season (and for the cold season) that the hot toddy. It's simple, it's easy to make, and yes, it really does help when you have the sniffles. But like all simple things, how to make a hot toddy the right way can be a bit tricky to master. So we've got some tips for you on the best way how to make a hot toddy, plus a great recipe.

A classic hot toddy is hot water, liquor, honey, and lemon. Yes, you can add a tea bag to your boiling water (black tea is lovely, but if you've got a cold, a spice tea or something herbal with ginger and cinnamon would be a winner), but the original and best hot toddy simply uses hot water. You can also use rum or brandy instead of the traditional whiskey, bourbon, or rye, using between an ounce and two ounces of liquor, depending on how strong you want the drink to be.

We don't really know how this particular cocktail recipe was invented; the stories go back Scotland or Ireland, probably in the 1700s, or possibly to British colonial troops who modeled the drink after one the found in India. We do know that there is truth to the idea that a hot toddy can actually make you feel better when you're sick by relieving some of your common cold symptoms.

First, the steam from the hot drink helps you breath more easily and soothes your raw, dry nasal passages. Next, the honey and fresh lemon juice calm your cough and soothe your sore throat. Finally, the alcohol acts as a cough suppressant and relaxes you, helping you to fall asleep so that your body can rest and heal.

We do want to note that when used medicinally, it's one hot toddy. Keep drinking and you lose all the good benefits and will likely feel worse the next morning.

Even if you're not feeling under the weather, a hot toddy is a cozy drink to have on a fall or winter night. It's also fun to try variations with, for example by making it with apple cider instead of water, or brown sugar instead of honey. Or you can try a flavored whiskey, as in this fun alternative way how to make a hot toddy.

American Apple Toddy

how to make a hot toddy

American Born Whiskey

American Born Whiskey, based in Nashville, Tennessee, has an Apple Whiskey that makes for a crisp twist on the classic hot toddy recipe.


  • 1.5 oz. American Born Apple Whiskey

  • 3 oz. Hot water

  • 1 Cinnamon stick

  • Cloves, to taste

Directions: Combine whiskey and hot water in a coffee mug and stir until well combined. Top w/ cinnamon stick & whole cloves to taste. Enjoy!

Watch: This 3-Ingredient Cocktail Cures the Common Cold