It's Just Not Christmas in the South Without One of Granny's Famous Hot Toddies
No sooner have the carols started being sung, the Hallmark movies being played, and the holiday cookies being baked than a cold, brisk wind drives a Southern granny to drink. Hot toddies, that is.
Because a hot toddy isn't a drink; it's medicine. That's what Nana always said, anyhow. She might not approve of anything more than a glass of champagne at Christmas dinner or tipple of bourbon after 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve (to soothe the nerves!), but a hot toddy is something that can cure even the coldest of bone chills and the sorest of throats, which are things to be avoided at all costs during her busy Christmas season.
The recipe itself is simple enough for a Classic Hot Toddy, made with hot water, lemon, honey, and bourbon (or Irish whiskey). At times, hot tea is preferred to water alone. But the trick really lies in a hostess' signature festive flair: a few cinnamon sticks here, some extra cloves there, 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!), a tiny dollop of local honey, Kentucky bourbon, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and a cinnamon stick and 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. After the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the toddies are served with Nana's infamous flair. It's just not Christmas in the South with a hot toddy, or two, or three, before it's all over.
Is it the cure for the common cold? Maybe not. But it definitely makes the recovery process a whole lot more fun than making a trip to the drugstore aisle for cough drops.
WATCH: William Faulkner's Hot Toddy
You can't beat a classic Hot Toddy recipe, but make like an elf and fix it up with festive holiday garnishes.