Some Like It Hot

Toddies and other hot cocktail recipes to warm the soul on frigid days.

All photos by Devon Trevathan.


Tropical and citrus cocktails are winter favorites because the fruit is in season and we need a little reminder of what it feels like to be in warmer temperatures. However, on certain days, our drinks could use some extra warmth. Luckily hot cocktails have come way back into vogue, from the classic toddy to the more experimental adult hot chocolates. Here are a few favorites that are easy to enjoy at home.

Essential Hot Toddy

Hot toddies are a staple of any serious whiskey drinker’s regimen for a great reason. Imagine a soothing cup of hot tea and then splash your favorite aged spirit into the mix. The result is pretty sublime—it’s warm, simple, and overflowing with comfort on a cold winter’s day. This cold-curing remedy needs a formidable whiskey—bourbons are often favorited, as are blended Scotches and Irish whiskey, but whatever whiskey you choose, go for something with a higher proof. Those extra percentage points of alcohol will really shine in this particular concoction.

  • 2 oz whiskey (such as Jim Beam Bonded)

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1 lemon wheel

  • 5 or 6 whole cloves

  • hot water

  • cinnamon stick (optional)

Add whiskey to a mug or toddy glass. As the water is heating, stick the cloves in the lemon wheel on each side. Add the honey and wheel to the mug and press the lemon with the back of a spoon to release the juices. Top with hot water and stir gently. Add the cinnamon stick if using.

Ancho Reyes Hot Chocolate

If you’ve not heard of the spicy twist on a traditional hot chocolate, deliciously made with an Ancho chile liqueur that hails from Mexico, then you’ve been seriously missing out. For this recipe, go old school with your hot chocolate by melting a quality bar of semi-sweet chocolate into milk. It’ll make all the difference.

  • 2 oz Ancho Reyes liqueur

  • ¾ cups whole milk

  • 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground

  • Pinch of salt

Warm milk in a saucepan over low to medium heat just until steaming. Whisk in the chocolate until melted. Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 3-5 minutes, making sure that it doesn’t boil over, or until it thickens slightly. Remove it from heat and add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper; whisk vigorously to combine. Pour Ancho Reyes into a heat proof glass or mug and top with the hot chocolate. Embellish as you please with either whipped cream, a cinnamon stick, or both.

Hot Gin & Gingerbread

Gin is criminally underused in hot cocktails. This particular recipe calls for a little extra work on the part of the bartender, but it’s absolutely worth the excellent end result. You can spice things up by swapping a barrel-aged gin for the traditional style.

Combine gingerbread syrup with gin in a tempered mug. Top the mixture with hot water and stir before garnishing with an orange wedge.

Gingerbread Syrup

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 16 whole cloves

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ginger

  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice

  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the first five ingredients on a piece of cheesecloth folded over so that it is doubled in thickness. Pull up all the sides and tie together to form a small bag. In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, honey, and nutmeg, then add the bag of spices. Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing heat and allowing it to simmer, uncovered, until syrup reaches desired consistency, about 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature, removing the spice bag and discarding it.

Remonstrel Toddy


Here is another twist on an old standby, and this one really kicks it up a notch. With the addition of agave, Green Chartreuse, ginger beer, mole bitters, and Angostura bitters—as well as the substitution of mezcal for bourbon—this cocktail swings from subtle sweetness to intense spice and smoke character.

Add the mezcal, Green Chartreuse, ginger beer, mole bitters, Angostura bitters and agave syrup to a toddy glass or mug. Top with hot water and stir till syrup is dissolved, than add a cinnamon stick. Peel a twist of lime and use it to spritz over the drink. Smack the sprigs of mint between your hands before adding them to the drink.