I'm Hot for Toddies

Winter whispers "warm whiskey."

When I'm sick, I'll choose the folksiest remedy every time, especially if it involves something 80 proof. Take Nyquil, for instance. Sure, it's got its own alcohol, but I'd much rather take an aspirin with a hot toddy any night. Traditionally, a hot toddy is a shot of bourbon, whiskey, or brandy mixed with honey, hot water, and lemon. The phrase comes from Scotland, and every Scot has a preferred recipe. Over the years, I've come up with my own bastardization of the drink—to add thickness—because I wanted a drink that was more comforting and childlike. So I cross-pollinated my toddy with a hot buttered rum and came up with the following: In an Irish coffee glass, mix a bit of hot water with the butter and the cinnamon sugar, until dissolved. Add the whiskey, top off glass with hot water, and squeeze in a big hunk of orange. I like Maker's because it has no bitter aftertaste, and every bar carries it. I use brown sugar and an orange because they both are crazy about bourbon. This drink has all the elements of fall, sweet-spiced fruit and a caramelized kick of heat from the alcohol. The hot toddy should be considered more of a drink category than just one recipe. Experiment with spices, alcohols, and teas. You could brew a pot of toddy water, putting the spices or teas in a coffee filter, and have it ready for guests. A Julep Hottie could do something with mint tea and bourbon. Replace the bourbon in my recipe with Irish whiskey, and make a Paddy Melt. A nightclub could offer an emergency toddy, adding your favorite flavor of Emergen C to the recipe. Is that any weirder than Red Bull and vodka? While many bars customize their drink menus, most have ignored hot beverages. But cheap whiskey and hot water with a puny slice of lemon won't cut it as a toddy anymore. I'd love to see hot toddies all over cocktail menus this fall, with little touches reflecting a bar's cuisine or theme. Tango, you can figure something out with tawny port or oloroso sherry, right? Lola, break out the Metaxa and the cardamom. I was out of my 5-degree comfort zone as of a week ago, so I'll be searching for places to enjoy hot beverages. E-mail your favorites to us, and we'll share them with the class. As for my quintessential toddy sipping spot, look for me at the Fireside Room of the Sorrento Hotel (900 Madison St.). The leather couches, smart service, and mammoth fireplace surely possess more curative properties than the waiting room at Swedish. info@seattleweekly.com

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