Tomorrow is National Hot Toddy Day, and since it’s both the height of flu season and the end of the polar vortex, the timing couldn’t be any better. Otherwise known as a “Whiskey Skin” (the moniker origins of this Scotch whiskey variation range from an innocuous depiction of key ingredient lemon’s “skin”, or peel, to tales of rivaling bar patrons splashing each other’s faces with scalding whiskey cocktails circa 1800s), the hot toddy has become the beloved drink of wintertime by serving as a makeshift fireplace to frozen, palm-rubbing bar hoppers and by acting as acceptable booze for sneeze-inflicted partiers. Another perk? The traditional four-ingredient combo — whiskey, hot water, lemon, and sweetener — deem this cocktail as classically simple as they come, creating level playing field for NYC bartenders looking to chip away at a cold month masterpiece. Earlier today, we brought you told you about Loreley’s hot cocktails — one of which is a hot toddy. Here, we present five more worth imbibing.
Harlem Toddy, Red Rooster, 310 Lenox Avenue, Harlem, 212-792-9001
The cold weather fix gets communal with the Harlem toddy at Red Rooster, where beverage director Lonn Coward steeps earl grey tea in a base of honey, coriander, and red habanero peppers before adding Starr African Rum and Jack Daniel’s Honey to fill a decorative teapot that serves four. “The chili spice, combined with the hot temperature of the Harlem toddy, makes it perfect for staving off winter colds,” says Coward.
Atrium Toddy, Atrium DUMBO, 15 Main Street, Brooklyn, 718-858-1095
The classic toddy gets a top shelf makeover from Atrium DUMBO beverage director Alexander LaPratt, who stirs up Jameson Whiskey, Vizcaya VXOP Rum, Drambuie, lemon, and orange for the Atrium toddy. While three forms of booze might seem excessive when compared to the single spirit classic, LaPratt assures that every ingredient plays an integral role: “The Jameson adds the power behind the drink, the VXOP rum brings depth and complexity along with a little oxidation, the Drambuie incorporates the honey element, and everything is rounded out by citrus.”
Pisco Toddy, NIOS, 130 West 46th Street, 212-485-2999
NIOS beverage director Ryan Brewster believes a toddy’s heat should be felt in temperature and impact alike. “When it is bitter cold, we like a hot toddy to be comforting, but also to pack a little punch,” he explains. He takes a subequatorial cue for the restaurant’s pisco toddy, a pisco-based riff that calls for steaming of house-made bitter rye syrup, Cointreau Noir, and spices in a metal frother before being poured into an orange wheel-garnished snifter.
Ginger Toddy, Hudson Lodge, 356 West 58th Street, 212-554-6217
At Hudson Lodge, grapes show up in two ways for the ginger toddy, a stovetop concoction of pinot grigio, raisins, ginger, and Irish whisky. “The homemade ginger ‘wine’ provides a rich, warming spice that gives a little heat to ward off the cold,” reveals Ryan Chetiyawardana, the cocktail’s creator. “The zestiness of the drink cuts through to stop the spices from being too heavy whilst the whisky soothes from within.”
Port Toddy, The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton Street, 212-982-8895
Some valid health benefits infuse the Meatball Shop’s port toddy, a chamomile tea-steeped, nearly true-to-form play on the classic with one exception: port subs for whiskey. “I love this drink’s fresh, bright aromas of white flower and honeysuckle,” says beverage director Skye LaTorre. “And using port instead of whiskey adds flavors of rich, dark berries and spice.”