This is a guest post from my one and only, D. Please enjoy. -G
D here, husband to G and resident Cooking the Stripes bar-tender, guest posting for the Hot Toddy recipe from November 2007.
“Make this for your holiday gathering” drink recipes are often problematic, because they only include instructions for how to make a batch for a crowd. This deters experimentation. A Tom & Jerry might be delicious, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never happened across 30 people who want a raw-egg drink at the same time.
As party recipes go, the EF Hot Toddy recipe is great, because though the top-line information says it makes 8 drinks, the actual instructions provide the precise measurements for a single, drink, so you can do one or two as easy as a party batch. A “hot toddy” is one of those things that everyone name-checks but nobody drinks. So G and I were both excited to see what a real live hot toddy tasted like.
Cutting to the chase, his recipe is fantastically simple and completely delicious and you have to go make one right now (or at least the next time it snows). Aside from Martha’s instructions, here’s what you need to know:
On the ingredients: don’t waste a bunch of cash on good brandy just for this. The cocktail authority over at Esquire, David Wondrich, did a feature on the best cheap booze. Print it out and save it. These are excellent, affordable recommendations to stock your home bar with. So, based on Mr. Wondrich’s expertise, we used Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP brandy. It’s about $13 for a bottle but it way better than that price would indicate, and makes a perfect base spirit.
On the proportions: The one adjustment that this recipe needs is to bump up the brandy. I like my cocktails strong, much stronger than G tends to. It’s not uncommon for me to make a new drink that I really like, and have her choke/cough after her sample sip and say, through watered eyes “tastes like burning.” (If you know G, you know that’s a Simpsons reference). That being said, even she preferred this toddy with 1 1/2 tablespoons of brandy (that would be 3/4 cup if you’re making the 8-serving), instead of the 1 tablespoon it calls for, which was a little weak. I preferred it at 2 tablespoons per mug, though few are likely to be as far at the end of the spectrum as me on this one.
On the technique: here’s a pro tip. Don’t worry about trying to get the honey off the measuring spoon. Just measure your honey last, and leave the measuring spoon in the drink when you pour in your hot water. Then use the measuring spoon to stir the drink, and the honey will dissolve from the heat as you mix. Plus, no swizzle stick to wash.
I really urge you to try this recipe. It’s the cocktail equivalent of an enthusiastic hug from a slightly overweight grandmother: comforting, warming, wonderful.
And yes, we both had seconds. You can’t have just one hug from grandma.