A hot toddy, also hot totty, and hot tottie, is typically a mixed drink made of liquor and water with sugar and spices and served hot. Hot toddy recipes vary and are traditionally drunk before going to bed, or in wet or cold weather. They were once believed to relieve the symptoms of the cold and flu — in How to Drink, Victoria Moore describes the drink as “the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb” — but the American Lung Association recommends avoiding treating the common cold with alcoholic beverages as they cause dehydration.
It has been suggested that the name comes from the toddy drink in India, produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees. The term could have been introduced into Scotland by a member of the East India Company.
An alternative explanation is given in Allan Ramsay’s 1721 poem The Morning Interview, which describes a tea party in which it is said that
“All the rich requisites are brought from far: the table from Japan, the tea from China, the sugar from Amazonia, or the West Indies, but that
‘Scotia does no such costly tribute bring,
Only some kettles full of Todian spring.'”
To this passage, Ramsay has appended the note:
“The Todian spring, i.e. Tod’s Well, which supplies Edinburgh with water.”
Tod’s Well, on the site of Arthur’s Seat, supplied Edinburgh, and since whisky derives its name from water (the Scottish Gaelic term uisge beatha), it could be that “Toddy” was a facetious name for whisky.
Traditional Northern British preparation of a hot toddy involves the mixture of whisky, boiling water or warm milk, and sugar or honey. Additional ingredients such as cloves, a lemon slice or cinnamon (in stick or ground form) may be added. A common version in the Midwestern United States uses Vernors Ginger Ale, lemon, honey and Bourbon whiskey. In Wisconsin, brandy is often used instead of bourbon. In Southern California the version includes tequila. (Wikipedia)
Here’s an original recipe of mine to try, The Commonwealth