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Entertaining
5 Hot-Take Hot Toddies

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Water, sugar, spirit, spice—this is the basic template for the Hot Toddy, a cold-weather cocktail so beloved it’s currently sailing through its fifth century of existence, with no sign of slowing down. The toddy has a lot going for it—including simplicity, bold flavor, soothing character, and, according to some sources, unexpected roots in India. But with three of its four ingredients open to interpretation, this drink’s greatest strength may be its variability. It’s like a liquid canvas for experimentation, which, in addition to being a metaphor that may or may not hold up, gave us the idea to show just how experimental you can get with a hot toddy. Also, it’s winter, prime toddy time, and National Hot Toddy Day is set for January 11.

So here we go. Our guide is Tonia Guffey, beverage director at craft cocktail bar Dram, and bartender at Basik and Bushwick Country Club, all three of which are in Brooklyn. We asked only that she keep whiskey—the most frequently used spirit for the modern toddy—as the base. Check out her envelope-pushing results below, and, despite the extreme-sports nature of these experiments, please do try them at home:

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Ditch your eggnog for this velvety concoction that lives up to its name. With sweet heat from the cinnamon syrup, toffee notes from the El Dorado, and cognac-tinged banana accents courtesy of the Giffard (not to mention the bourbon base), the Soul & Fire is deep, complex and spicy. Perfect for a dark winter night.

The Essentials

Bourbon
El Dorado Cream
Banana Liqueur
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Tonia says the Eternal is “a throwback to the OG toddy,” which often featured tea as the spice component (or as an additional spice component). But instead of tea, this rendition uses chamomile-infused liqueur alongside overproof bourbon. Combine with locally sourced honey, hot water and plenty of Angostura bitters—which add clove, cinnamon and allspice accents—and you have a killer neo-classic winter warmer.

The Essentials

Bourbon
Chamomile Grappa Liqueur
Angostura Bitters
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The Picture Perfect begins with three ripe blackberries, muddled with honey, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice to add sweet, tart notes to the big bourbon flavor at the foundation. Sip this great-looking concoction and bet on the groundhog not to see his shadow come February.

The Essentials

Blackberries
Bourbon
Grapefruit Juice
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From the island of Great Britain (where the modern toddy took root in Scotland) to the islands of the Caribbean, with a stop in North America for rye whiskey, this coconut-and-pineapple tinged riff spans the hemisphere. It’s spicy, slightly sweet, and exotic. The Island Toddy may not cure your winter sniffles, but it’ll definitely warm your soul as you daydream of the tropics.

The Essentials

Rye
Plantation Pineapple Rum
Lemon
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You don’t have to be a Smog fan to appreciate this inspired creation, which blends the exquisitely tart Leopold New York Sour Apple Liqueur and lemon juice with spicy-sweet cinnamon syrup and earthy sherry. The result is an amazing, balanced spin on the traditional toddy that’s good from apple-picking season to Valentine’s Day.

The Essentials

Bourbon
Amontillado Sherry
Cinnamon

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