Like snowflakes, no two hot toddies are identical. A shot of whiskey, a squirt of lemon, a draft of hot water, some spice, and you've got a warm winter remedy. But if hot toddies don't stoke your embers, there are plenty of other seasonal stove-top brews: spiked ciders, mulled wines, dosed coffees. Fittingly, most of the establishments serving these toasty tonics also offer hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meals, often by a roaring fire. And don't worry if there are no scalding spirits on the menu: These baristas can whip up practically anything you like!
The trusty bartender at Second Avenue standby and Brit outpost the TELEPHONE BAR (149 Second Avenue, 529-5000) will fix you up a host of hot drinks, many of them unadvertised (the specials recently listed a $6 spiked apple cider and a $6.50 seasonal holiday wine mulled with fresh berries and spice). An alcoholic antidote to the wet, freezing mess outside, their hot toddy (John Powers Irish whiskey, hot lemon water, clove-studded lemon; $6) was served steaming in a glass mug. Telephone also proffers an extensive list of winter microbrews, including the rich, cinnamon-y Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale ($5). And relaxed pub that it is, you can enjoy your libations snuggling in front of the little-known fireplace in the back lounge.
If you're in search of a splurge, the bar at GRANGE HALL (50 Commerce Street, 924-5246) will do swell. Located on one of those fabulously quaint Greenwich Village blocks, this former speakeasy exudes warmth despite its rich crowd: The host is accommodating and down-to-earth, a portrait of FDR hangs behind the bar, and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" plays elegantly. Here, the cocktail of choice is a hot wassail (spiced apple cider, citrus juices, and dark rum or brandy; $6.50) that was a soothing, TheraFlu-like potion filled with apple-cinnamon goodness. Also worth touting was a frosty pint of light and pungent Brooklyn Saison ($5.50), the local brewery's new French-Belgian-style ale, which recently won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup. Or party down with a bottle of bubblythe reasonably priced Pacific Echo brut ($28) filled more than six flutes!
You won't be drinking champagne at O'FLAHERTY'S ALE HOUSE (334-336 West 46th Street, 581-9366), but that's not the point of this column, is it? Sip on an Irish coffee ($6.50) insteadit's the bartender's piping-hot specialty, blending Irish whiskey, coffee, cream, and sugar, and luxuriously dolloped with whipped cream and an emerald shamrock. It would make a fit follow-up to a substantial Murphy's stout pie ($10.95). Or opt for the good fried hot wings ($3.90 for six) and a pitcher of cold brew ($13-$14). Located on the theater district's restaurant row, this pub mecca has a huge rectangular bar, a lovely garden and green room (with a tree growing through the roof!), a pool table, darts, two fireplaces, a front lounge lined with comfy couches, and an eclectic library-like decor. It's about as cozy as you can get on a wintry day, and isn't that what hot toddies are all about?
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.