The Imperial Life’s Favorite Hot Toddy
When those brisk winter breezes whip through our mountain passes, jingling bells and swaying twinkling Christmas lights, we crave a drink that warms the fingers and the belly alike: a hot toddy.
Though everyone knows the hot toddy, its definitions are as mercurial as the shifting patterns of the season’s snowflakes. The history of the traditional cocktail, for example, is obscure; most posit the hot toddy hails from Scotland, where cold and damp temperatures drove ladies to drink sweetened Scotch, but others contend the drink’s origins lie in Britain and their trade with India, where a drink of palm tree sap—a toddy—could have translated to a European adaptation.
Though the derivations of the toddy are shrouded in postulations, the ingredients list of the cocktail is positively undefined, completely malleable to the drinkers preferences and mood—and that’s what makes it such a great cocktail. “The best part of the toddy is its adaptability,” says Ben Johnson, bar manager at the Imperial Life, Table’s hip craft cocktail complement (you’ll find it up the marbled stairs when you open the door).
The only rules of the ephemeral toddy are that it must contain a liquor (Johnson notes that literally any spirit will work), a sweetener, like honey or sugar, a warm base (hot water or tea are popular), and usually a citrus (’tis the season, after all). “Try it with bourbon, lemon, and honey—but try it with rum, or with cognac. Experiment!” says Johnson.
Johnson shares one of his favorite toddies with us: a smooth blend of sherry, cognac and fresh grapefruit with a splash of creamy creme de cacao that will warm even the frostiest fingertips.