This soothing and comforting Hot Toddy with tea is so easy to make with simple ingredients. This classic cocktail is sweet and slightly tangy, with a smooth whiskey finish. It’s the perfect comforting cold weather adult drink!
A quick and easy cocktail, the classic hot toddy is believed to help ease the symptoms of a cold (it’s incredibly delicious as well!). Although there is no cure for the common cold, this toddy sure has seemed to help ease my cold and flu symptoms over the years! Pair it with a bowl of chicken noodle soup for the ultimate comforting meal.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Simplicity: This cocktail is prepared with just a handful of ingredients in a few minutes.
- Versatility: This recipe is easily customizable – adjust the ingredients to make it your personal favorite!
- Ingredients: Lemon, honey, and herbal tea not only taste delicious but offer potential health benefits.
- Soothing: If you have a sore throat or cold, this cocktail can be soothing and may provide temporary relief.
What’s In a Hot Toddy?
- Whiskey – Brandy, dark rum, or spiced rum can be used in place of whiskey.
- Tea – I prefer herbal tea, but any tea will work.
- Lemon juice – Freshly squeezed is best!
- Spices (optional, but I highly recommend!) – Cinnamon sticks, star anise, and clove-studded lemon wheels.
How to Make a Hot Toddy
Please see the recipe card for the full detailed instructions.
- Prepare the tea: Boil water for the tea in a small saucepan. Place 2 tea bags in the boiling water and remove from the heat. Cover and steep.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Pour the tea into a mug, then pour in honey, lemon juice and whiskey.
- Stir to combine: Give it a good stir and add cinnamon sticks, star anise or a clove-studded lemon wheel for garnish and extra flavor, if desired.
While the tea is steeping, I stud a lemon wheel with cloves for a hint of spice and added citrus. It’s not required, but is such a beautiful presentation!
How to Stud a Lemon Wheel with Cloves
Use a skewer, toothpick, or even a knitting needle to pierce the lemon wheel. Be sure to slice the lemon wheels about ⅓-inch thick so you’ll have enough room for the clove to be inserted. If using a wooden skewer or a toothpick, ensure that it doesn’t splinter in the lemon.
It depends upon your personal preference, but bourbons are most commonly used in a hot toddy cocktail because of its sweet flavor. Scotch, Rye, or Irish whiskey can also be used.
Agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, or brown sugar are great substitutions for honey in this recipe.
Hot toddies have long been a popular home remedy for colds, but it has not been academically proven that a hot toddy is beneficial for a cough or cold. However, honey, lemon, and hot water have been individually linked to relief from cold and cough symptoms.
Simply omit the whiskey or substitute with warm apple cider for a non-alcoholic apple cider toddy.
While this recipe is best when served fresh, you can make the tea ahead of time and reheat when ready to serve. Add the lemon juice, honey, and whiskey and stir to combine.
- Tea variations: Prepare this toddy using green tea, chai tea, or Earl Grey tea.
- Alcohol variations: Try this toddy with rum, spiced rum, or brandy.
- Herbal infusions: Steep the tea with fresh rosemary, mint, lemon balm, or your favorite herb!
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice. While bottled lemon juice can be used, freshly squeezed has a much brighter flavor.
- Steeping time: Be careful not to over-steep your tea so that it is not overly strong or bitter.
- Use quality ingredients such as a high-quality tea and your favorite whiskey.
- Measuring honey: A helpful tip when measuring honey (or any sticky liquid) is to spray your measuring spoon with cooking spray before pouring in the honey (it will pour out easier).
More Hot Cocktails You’ll Love
- 1 ¾ cups boiling water
- 2 herbal tea bags
- 3 tablespoons honey more or less, to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup whiskey
- cinnamon sticks, star anise and/or lemon wheels studded with cloves optional garnish
- Boil water in a small saucepan. Place tea bags in boiling water, remove from heat and cover to steep for approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
- Pour equal amounts of the tea into 2 mugs. Pour half of the honey, lemon juice, and whiskey into each mug. Stir to combine.
- Garnish and flavor with cinnamon sticks, star anise, and/or lemon wedges studded with cloves, if desired.
- Brandy, dark rum, or spiced rum can be substituted for whiskey.
- This recipe yields approximately 18 ounces – enough for two small mugs or one large mug.
If provided, nutritional info is a courtesy, is not guaranteed and should only be considered as a guideline.
Originally published October 2012. Updated and republished October 2023 with new photographs and helpful tips.