Local Libations: The Some Like it Hot Toddy
by Andrew States
While I was trying to come up with a cocktail for this week that I felt hit the right tone in relation to Brianna’s Mushroom & Miso Survival of the Fittest soup, I got the flu. I laid in bed for the next two days, the cold, gray, sky turning my mood as foul as my rebelling insides. I watched movies and drank water between bouts of sweat-soaked sleep. At some stage in the throes of my shivering and sweating, I had the strength to send Brianna an email to ask for help: I was in fact, having a little trouble coming up with a drink for this week. Was there anything in her recipe that she hadn’t mentioned? Some spice I’d missed or overlooked as my eyes twirled helplessly around in my boiling head. In her reply, she hit on what appears to be this month’s running theme, and a particularly apropos one for me: Health. Mad from fever as I was, I had a flash of inspiration: sick people drink Hot Toddies.
When winter comes around, I can be sure some poor, sniffling, soul will shuffle hopelessly through the doors of whatever bar I happen to be working behind and, with an earnest plea in their red eyes, cough out the words “Hot Toddy please.” I know what they mean. I’ve enjoyed a hot toddy’s effects when I found it impossible to fall into the blessed, hard-earned sleep of the unwell. There’s no doubt hot toddies help. They don’t help the way eating Brianna’s soup and NOT drinking will help, but however fleeting it may be, the feeling of warmth and comfort that a hot toddy offers is healing of an irreplaceable kind. They mend you in your troubled mind. They comfort you, if only for a moment. Some times a moment is all we need.
For my spirit, I chose Berkshire Bourbon Whiskey out of Sheffield Massachusetts. I was swayed by the advice of the cocktail writer David Wondrich, who recommends using only pot-stilled spirits due to the heavier body which comes through in a hot, sweet, drink. Berkshire has the distinction of being pot-stilled, made regionally, and delicious to boot. I tend to like my bourbons a little bit sweeter than not and Berkshire’s Bourbon Whiskey is sweet enough without becoming treacle. Next, I chose unrefined sugar for its straight ahead and slightly light sweetness. Whereas honey was too floral and molasses too smoky, sugar filled out the sweetener portion of the toddy in a way that added to the drink without detracting from the liquor taste. To add the extra something, I sliced Anjou and Bosc pears into wheels and coated each piece with grated cinnamon and some of the aforementioned sugar. Dropping the coated pear wheels into a dry pan, I roasted them until the sugar was caramelized are golden brown on both sides. Hot water is what makes the hot toddy more than just sugary booze. This combination is what makes you feel plucked free from the stuffiness of your nose and the dry desert of your throat, held above them for a moment.
Some Like It Hot Toddy
Prep time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
Tools – Plate, grater (if using whole cinnamon stick), pan, 1 oz. shot glass, measuring spoons, pot for boiling water, spoon, spatula
- 2 oz. Berkshire Bourbon Whiskey
- 4 oz. boiling water
- 1 1/2 tsp raw unrefined sugar
- slice of pear
- 1/4 tsp grated cinnamon
- Grate cinnamon onto a plate with ½ teaspoon of sugar.
- Slice a pear horizontally to get a wheel shape.
- Coat both sides of the pear wheel with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
- Place the pear wheel into a dry pan and roast on high until the sugar is caramelized on both sides.
- Pour 2 oz of Berkshire Bourbon Whiskey into a mug.
- Add 1 tsp of raw sugar to the mug.
- Add 4 oz of boiling water to the mug.
- Drop in the caramelized pear wheel.
- Sip, and allow the vapors to do their work. But be careful, this stuff is hot.