Forget hot chocolate—the best après-ski tipple is a hot toddy. Spiked with citrus, whiskey, and spices, it’s almost impossible to drink just one. “It’s a full-body winter warmer, like a warm hug or a liquid jacket,” says Tullamore D.E.W.’s U.S. Brand Ambassador Tim Herlihy, who’s given lectures on hot toddies. Herlihy says that the “more-ishness” of this classic cocktail—its nature to both comfort and ignite the senses—derives from its simplest ingredient: warm water. “With heat comes more flavor, fragrance, and aroma.”
He adds, however, that the origins of this drink are murky. Per one theory, it was first mixed 300 years ago to mask the rank taste of raw scotch, then a moonshine-like hooch; spices and hot water offset the burn. Another theory posits the drink as deriving from Tod’s well, the water source in central Edinburgh which provided the city’s earliest clean drinking supplies. But Herlihy, a proud Irishman, prefers the notion that credits a fellow countryman with its invention.
Robert Bentley Todd, a doctor, was renowned for prescribing hot, brandy-based drinks as medicine. Doctor Todd’s theory wasn’t pure quackery, either; recent studies have shown that hot, spicy drinks promote mucus secretions in the nose and mouth. These, of course, act as the first natural defense against infections by viruses or bacteria. Yet you don’t need to be sniffling to justify a toddy or two today, or even be a confirmed whiskey drinker. These are versatile drinks, per Herlihy, with few hard and fast rules. “You can’t go wrong, and there are endless family recipes,” he says. “I love substituting hot water for hot apple cider.” Indeed, many of the best American ski resorts are offering their own distinctive riffs on the classic recipe this winter. Alas, our top picks for elevated sips.
The Brass Tag | Deer Valley, UT
Whiskey from Park City—combining rye, bourbon, and scotch for extra complexity—is the basis of this drink from manager Josh Hockman.
1.5 oz. High West campfire whiskey
½ oz. Utah honey
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Scrappy’s Seville orange bitters
3 oz. hot water
Combine and stir honey, hot water, and lemon juice in a glass. Add the bitters and whiskey.
Garnish with cinnamon, an orange peel, and fresh grated nutmeg.
Wolfdale’s | Lake Tahoe, CA
Don’t get spooked, but this toddy’s named after the in-house ghost who is a legacy of the historic building—a Comstock mine-era lumberman’s home prior to becoming a restaurant.
1.5 oz. Makers Mark bourbon
¾ oz. honey simple syrup (equal parts water and honey boiled down)
½ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 oz. hot water
Build the cocktail in a snifter glass and serve with a lemon twist.
The Little Nell Hot Toddy
The Little Nell | Aspen, CO
The heady floral bouquet keeps this toddy lighter and dangerously drinkable.
2 oz. Hennessey VSOP (or XO) Cognac
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. anise, nutmeg, and honey simple syrup
Build the cocktail in any insulated glassware (even a jetboil works) and top with Rishi’s “chamomile medley” tea. Garnish with a nutmeg-dusted lemon wheel.
Mount Gay Hot Toddy
The Lodge at Vail, A Rock Resort | Vail, CO
Awaiting skiers just steps from Gondola One in Vail Village, this toddy is made with Black Barrel aged Mount Gay rum, Colorado honey, fresh lemon juice, and cinnamon heated to perfection.
1.5 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel rum
½ oz. lemon squeezed
3/4 oz. Honey
Combine and stir honey, hot water, and a splash of orange and lemon juice in a tall coffee glass.
Garnish with clove, orange, and cinnamon stick.