There’s something about a Hot Toddy that feels like a good remedy even if it’s just for the winter blues.

Despite being a ubiquitous liquid comfort during the cold months of the year, everyone seems to make a Hot Toddy a little differently. Some make it with honey, others prefer the “kick” from fresh ginger syrup, or some even add a dash of cayenne pepper. Generally speaking, though, an aged spirit (usually whiskey), fresh lemon, hot water, some spices, and a little sugar for balance makes up a Hot Toddy.

Like many simple classics, the Hot Toddy is a great drink for experimentation. Try swapping out the whiskey with one of the suggested base liquids below, and let the spirit move you this National Hot Toddy day, January 11, 2020.

Organic Aged Rum

A fantastic replacement for whiskey in a Hot Toddy is quality, aged rum. Since rum itself is such a broad spirit category, there is a lot of opportunity to bring in a variety of new flavors to your favorite winter cocktail.

Since Hot Toddies are generally accepted as a cocktail that’s okay to enjoy when you’re sick, we suggest using organic rum with no additives. A great option is Copalli Barrel-Rested Rum from Belize. It’s made only from organic sugar cane juice, yeast, and rainforest canopy water and finished in ex-bourbon barrels. Copalli Rum brings a bit of fruity-funkiness that might initially seem unusual for a Hot Toddy. Still, along with its subtle flavors of oak, vanilla, and a touch of cinnamon, it works exceptionally well.

Another great option is Dos Maderas 5 + 3 double aged, five years in oak casks, and three years in Spain in sherry Dos Cortados casks, with sweet notes of dried fruits and toasted nuts aroma.

Dos Maderas 5 + 3

Dos Maderas 5 + 3

Cognac or Brandy

The popularity of using Cognac and Brandy in cocktails seems to be growing across the United States, and we must say, it’s a great option for making a Hot Toddy. Try Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy, pegged “the brandy for bourbon lovers,” making it the perfect base spirit in a Hot Toddy.

Or pick up a bottle of the newly launched Bertoux Brandy, specifically made for use in cocktails. Bertoux is made from a blend of 3-7-year-old pot-distilled brandies in California and aged in American and French oak barrels. With flavors of honey, baking spices, and a touch of oak, doesn’t that already sound like a great Hot Toddy?

Brandy Lineup

Brandy Lineup

A Locally Made Single Malt

As mentioned previously, Hot Toddies are typically made with whiskey, but if you want something a little different than your usual go-to bottle of bourbon, consider trying American Single Malt. It’s an ever-growing category, with various distillers producing unique offerings all around the country.

A recent favorite is Westward American Single Malt Whiskey. Made “from grain to glass” at House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon; Westward is made from pale malted barley that is fermented in ale yeast, pot-distilled, and matured in new charred American oak. It’s a rich and robust single malt that makes an exceptional Hot Toddy with flavors of toasted barley and sweet malt, along with subtle barrel spice.

Westward Single Malt, bottle on white

Westward Single Malt

Reposado or Anejo Tequila

Suggested Bottle: Siete Leguas Anejo Tequila

Tequila probably isn’t the first spirit that comes to mind for a Hot Toddy, but don’t knock it until you try it! We’d suggest going with an option that has spent some time mellowing in a barrel (i.e., a quality reposado or añejo).

An excellent choice is 123 Organic Reposado Tequila (Dos), which rests in white oak barrels for six months, with aromatic raw and cooked agave and the added warmth of oak aging with notes of vanilla, anise, and a hint of citrus.

Also, try with Siete Leguas Añejo, which comes in at a decent price-point for cocktail use. Distilled from 100% blue weber agave and aged for at least a year, it’s full-bodied and less sweet than many Añejos tequilas, and its warm cinnamon notes play nicely in a Hot Toddy.

123 Certified Organic Tequila

123 Certified Organic Tequila


Another somewhat unexpected twist on a Hot Toddy is to reach for the spirit of Scandinavia: Aquavit. Not too dissimilar from gin, Aquavit is made from a neutral grain spirit flavored with a variety of botanicals (typically caraway and anise). A rich and complex option matured in old Sherry casks is Linie Aquavit from Norway. It is very much anise and caraway-forward, so it’s quite a departure from the typical whiskey-based Toddy. However, with mellow vanilla, clove, and oak tones, it provides a unique and delicious spin on the classic winter-warmer.

Linie Aquavit

Linie Aquavit