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Hot toddy time

The weather outside really IS frightful. We can help.

After a long day tending to five children, my mother would command time for herself. With a mystery book under her arm, she’d climb the stairs to her bedroom and her “hot toddy.” In her case, the hot toddy was a cold bottle of Miller High Life, “the champagne of beers.”  

While she didn’t opt for the conventional original (whiskey, water, and lemon juice) except when needed to break a fever, she did imbue the term “hot toddy” with a sense of tradition and celebration. 

Hot toddy history begins in the late eighteenth century. The earliest recipe is described as a mixture of alcohol, hot water, sugar, and spice. Its etymology comes from India, where the “toddy drink” lists as ingredients fermented palm tree sap, alcohol, hot water, sugar, and spices.

The tradition and the celebration continue in bars and lounges during the deep dark of a Rochester winter. Beyond the expected Irish coffee and hot spiked eggnog, there’s much more out there to keep you warm.


Richie Salvaggio, Dicky’s Corner Pub, 791 Meigs St.

Dicky’s Hot Apple Honey Crisp 

1 oz. Jim Beam honey bourbon whiskey

10 oz. Schutt’s apple cider

Whipped cream


Crumbled fried donuts (garnish)

Heat Jim Beam and cider. Add whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon and crumbled fried donuts.



Charles Weckworth, Lento, 274 N. Goodman St. at Village Gate 

“The two standard hot drinks à la minute are the Irish Coffee, with Irish whisky, simple syrup, French press local coffee, and house-made whipped cream; and the Tea Toddy, with bourbon (or other dark spirit), honey or ginger syrup, lemon juice, and fresh brewed tea.

Lento Cider Bourbon Toddy

1.5 oz. Black Button four-grain bourbon

.5 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon

.5 oz. Honey spice syrup (see below)

3 oz. Fennel-infused cider

Bring half a gallon of cider to a gentle simmer with one ounce of mulling spices for ten minutes and then strain over one cup sliced fennel leaves. Let steep for two to three minutes and then strain again into a press pot or other thermal dispenser.

Honey Spice Syrup

Mix together one cup of Davis local honey, one cup of white sugar, and two cups water. Skin a tangerine or orange and add three cloves and one cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and strain to holding vessel until needed.

Fill a glass coffee mug with hot water while you measure the bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup. Dump the hot water out and fill the mug with the cider to desired level, adding a cinnamon stick for garnish. Using a press pot lets you keep the cider hot for hours.


Anthony Rauhana, The Cub Room, 739 S. Clinton Ave.

Cub Room Onsen Toki Toddy

.75 oz. Matcha and mint honey syrup

.75 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon

.5 oz. Apple brandy

1 oz. Toki Japanese blended whisky

Hot water

Named after the Japanese word for hot springs, the heated Onsen Toki Toddy mixes together matcha green tea, mint, honey, brandy, whisky, and hot water. The Cub Room is also planning Mulled Cider Mondays in winter months, “a riff on the classic hot hard cider drink,” says Rauhana. 


Javian Rafus, Oak Hill Country Club, Kilbourn Rd.

Country Club Hot Buttered Rum

Drawn butter

Spiced rum



Hot water

Fresh whipped cream

Mix drawn butter with cinnamon and nutmeg together and roll into small balls. Put a ball in a coffee cup and add spiced rum. Heat it all together with hot water. Add whipped cream mixed with cinnamon.


Matthew Pawloski, Daily Refresher, 293 Alexander St.

Daily Refresher Hot Buttered Rum

1.25 oz. Goslings Black Seal Rum

.25 oz. Allspice dram liqueur 

1 oz.  House-made spiced butter compote (butter, brown sugar, salt, spices)

Star anise or cinnamon stick (garnish)

Mix rum and butter compote. Top with hot water and stir. Add star anise or cinnamon stick for garnish.




Or, try bartender Casey Holland’s recipe that was used for the United States Bartenders Guild, Rochester Chapter’s ROC 2018 calendar.

1 oz. Softened butter

1 oz. Blended scotch

.5 oz. Smith & Cross rum

.25 oz. Allspice dram liqueur

.25 oz. Honey syrup 

Mix all together, top with hot water, and stir.


Nancy O’Donnell is a freelance writer who is curious about everything.

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