It's Just Not Christmas Without One Of Granny's Famous Hot Toddies

Warm, cozy, and capable of coaxing you into a deep Christmas slumber.

Spiced Wine
Photo: Photo: Hector Sanchez

When we start singing Christmas carols, Hallmark movies play on television, and the smell of holiday cookies baking in the oven fills our homes, it's time for a classic Southern drink—the hot toddy.

Because a hot toddy isn't a drink—it's medicine. That's what Nana always said, anyhow. A hot toddy can cure even the coldest of bone chills and sore throats, which are things to be avoided at all costs during her busy Christmas season.

The recipe is simple enough. You make a Classic Hot Toddy with hot water, lemon, honey, and bourbon (or Irish whiskey). At times, some people prefer hot tea instead of water. The trick lies in a hostess' signature festive flair—This can include a few cinnamon sticks, extra cloves, a sprig of rosemary, or a sprinkle of nutmeg. Follow what the sniffles tell you, she'd advise.

A winning combination in a Southern household is hot water steeped with a tea bag for just around three minutes (the tea doesn't need to be strong when the bourbon is!). Add a tiny dollop of local honey, Kentucky bourbon, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a cinnamon stick, and a lemon slice to garnish.

Known for soothing and, dare we say, medicinal properties, hot toddies are the cocktail equivalent of wrapping up in a fuzzy blanket: warm, cozy, and capable of coaxing you into a deep Christmas slumber.

Everyone from your usually-dry Southern grandmother to your crazy Aunt Birdie knows what's up. It's not Christmas in the South without a hot toddy, or two, or three, before it's all over. (After all, you serve the toddies with Nana's infamous flair after hanging the stockings by the chimney with care).

Is it the cure for the common cold? Maybe not. But it makes a recovery process much more fun than making a trip to the drugstore aisle for cough drops.

You can't beat a classic Hot Toddy recipe, but make like an elf and fix it with festive holiday garnishes. Here are some ways to customize a hot toddy recipe.

01 of 03

Hot Bourbon-Orange Tea Toddy

Hot Bourbon-Orange Tea Toddy
Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Recipe: Hot Bourbon-Orange Tea Toddy

Orange pekoe tea bags gives this hot toddy a distinctive flavoring. Paired with crushed red pepper and ginger, you'll want to drink this unique blend all winter. Remember to sweeten it with honey.

02 of 03

Hot Spiced Tea

Hot Spiced Tea
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

Recipe: Hot Spiced Tea

A traditional hot toddy recipe is tea, bourbon, lemon, and honey. Use this classic drink as inspiration but add a few special juices like pineapple and orange—Chai tea and spices complete this recipe, and your choice of bourbon or whiskey make it a classic winter "hot toddy."

03 of 03

Hot Honey

hot honey
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: Kellie Gerber Kelley

Recipe: Hot Honey

Why not add some spice to your honey as a core ingredient in a hot toddy? With only three ingredients, you can make this classic hot honey to add to your winter beverages and save some for your holiday appetizers.

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