a whiskey soother

by Jacqui

On a cold day, almost nothing is better than a hot toddy. I’d put it in the same highly-acclaimed category as tom yum. Like the soup, a hot toddy will warm you from the inside, soothe you, and bring you back to center. It’s been known to cure an array of ailments, congestion and homesickness included. In other words, a hot toddy’s got it going on.

(A woman just walked down my street, passing below my bedroom window. I heard her voice first. She was singing with abandon, and I pulled up my blinds to get a better look. Her face was hidden under a purple umbrella, the clip-clop of her heels marking the beat of her song as her legs scissored out in front of her. She walked at the pace of a someone with places to go and people to see. I’m glad it’s warm enough to leave the windows open, but cold enough to drink hot tea and whiskey).

Maybe five years ago, my friend Matt and I were out in New York on a Saturday night. We were feeling fickle enough to hop from bar to bar despite the typical February temperatures, eating a little here and drinking a little there. It was so frigid that many bars were empty, which is rare for most nights in New York. Toward the end of the evening, on our way to the train, we ducked out of the cold and into one last low-lit spot, lured by the moody tabletop tea lights and the prospect of the perfect night cap to ease our commutes home. I ordered a hot toddy, probably for the sake of the name, and it turned out to be a winner.

To me, a good hot toddy means a lot of lemon, a little honey, the unmistakable taste of cinnamon, and a back note of whiskey.

Here’s how to recreate a really good version. In a mug, steep black tea with boiling hot water and a cinnamon stick. One minute does the trick. Take out the teabag and drizzle in a tablespoon of honey. Squeeze in half a lemon. Add an ounce of whiskey and stir.

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