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Vin Brule from Lago Santa Monica

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The Hot Toddy is a cold weather “cocktail” that help raise spirits and fight the wintertime blues.  The Hot Toddy traditionally contains a spirit, a sweetener, and a warm base.  Toddies can be made from tea, coffee, apple cider, sugar, syrup, brandy, bourbon, or rum. The most traditional toddies include the basics of honey, lemon, hot water, and bourbon.  Cocktails with spice content elicit feelings of warmth and tingle the palate.

The Hot Toddy is an old drink, the history of which is largely unknown. It was most likely created in the 1700’s in Scotland to make the taste of scotch more palatable to women.  Some believe that since there was a lot of trade with Great Britain and India at this time that the name might have come from an Indian beverage named toddy, which is created from fermenting palm tree sap.  Hot Toddies were customarily drunk at bedtime and were meant to fight off aliments such as a cold or the flu.

To celebrate National Hot Toddy Day on January 11, I ventured to four great L.A. watering holes that make the perfect winter warmer libation:

The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA houses “LA’s Best Bartender” winner, Justin Pike whose mixology program draws on pre-Prohibition traditions to produce his own homemade bitters, liqueurs and other “medicinal” ingredients.  He recently created the “Beginner’s Luck” ($12), his take on the classic Hot Toddy.  The Rye-based version features Becherovka Herbal Liqueur (Czech bitters with a sweet clove essence), a dash of ginger, honey, housemade all spice blend, and an orange peel garnish.

The “Hot Teddy” ($12) at CHAYA Venice, features Bushmill’s Black Bush Irish Whiskey, honey, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.  The unique twist on the name comes courtesy of its creator, legendary mixologist Ted Thompson who has been concocting drinks at CHAYA Venice since its opening, over 20 years ago.

At Ray’s & Stark Bar, the “Bobbin’ for Bourbon” ($12) is created by mixing apple-infused bourbon, raspberry red rooibos tea, lemon juice, and a winter spiced simple syrup topped with fresh whipped cream and freshly grated cinnamon.


At Locanda del Lago in Santa Monica Bartender Joe Matlock, the Hottest Toddy on the Westside, prepared us two Hot Toddies to try.  The “Hot Toddy” (off the menu, order by request) is made with Knob Creek Bourbon, Hot Water, Lemon, and Honey ($10).  You can add Mighty Leaf Bombay Chai Tea for an additional $2 for a seasonal spice twist to the classic cocktail.

Joe also made us a wonderful Vin Brule (a.k.a. “Burnt Wine”) which is made with Primitivo Red Wine from Puglia, Italy, with cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, lemon peel and sugar, steamed until hot ($10).  Spectacular!

Nothing is as heart warming as the classic hot toddy.  It has a perfect balance of lemon, honey, and spirits that calms the nerves, warms the belly, and soothes the throat.  All these libations are available through the holidays.  Get out and treat yourself to some welcoming warm wonderfulness tonight.  Enjoy!




Craving cocktails?™ Hot Toddies for cold nights4Sara Altshul2011-12-18 18:35:15

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The Hot Toddy is a cold weather “cocktail…


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