Classic Hot Toddy Recipe made with Cognac for those cold winter nights or a great comforting cocktail. This recipe can also be substituted with brandy, whiskey or bourbon.
It’s that time of the year — cold and flu season. Or just plain cold. And as much as I love me my wine, there are times when only a hot toddy will do. This is especially true when I’m congested to the point where I can’t even smell wine.
After traveling to the Cognac region of France several years ago I can’t resist making the classic soothing fall and winter cocktail with Cognac. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. It’s incredibly smooth, and so flavorful! But first things first…
What is a Hot Toddy
Hot Toddies are a soothing warm cocktail typically made by combining hot water, honey, lemon, and a spirit such as bourbon, whiskey, or brandy. They are the perfect warm drink to enjoy on a crisp fall or winter night or if you are suffering from a cold, because it soothes the throat, body and soul, helping you to relax and uplift your mood.
What I’ve discovered through years of making hot toddies is the importance of using a good quality spirit — one you are happy sipping on its own. Just as I would never recommend cooking with a wine you wouldn’t drink on its own, the same advice goes for the quality of spirit you use for this cocktail. This is because you aren’t altering the flavor much, but simply diluting it with hot water, sweetening it with honey, and infusing it with a touch of cinnamon.
What liquor is best for a Hot Toddy?
Most commonly you’ll find hot toddies made with:
But my preference is Cognac. If I don’t have any Cognac on hand, I’ll reach for bourbon.
How to Make the Best Hot Toddy Recipe
Making the best hot toddy is simple! Get some water nice and hot. I’m talking near boiling! Once the hot water meets the cognac (or other liquor) and honey it will cool down quickly to a drinkable temperature.
- Start by adding Cognac to a glass or mug.
- Then add the boiling (or near boiling) water.
- Add honey (to your preference, I like to start with one tablespoon).
- Finish with a lemon slice and, if you’re a cinnamon fan, add a stick of cinnamon to infuse flavor.
Enjoy the heck out of your delicious and comforting classic hot toddy! You’ve earned it.
Does a Hot Toddy really work to cure a cold?
Okay, so the truth is there’s no real “cure” for a common cold. So while this may not “cure” your cold, neither will NyQuil. They both work, however, to offer relief to your symptoms, and ease congestion and runny noses. And, while neither will cure your cold 100%, compared to NyQuil, at least Hot Toddies taste good!
Recommended supplies for the perfect Hot Toddy
- A good Hot Toddy mug
- Stainless steel jigger for the perfect measurements
More Great Fall and Winter Cocktails
- Bourbon Spiked Hot Apple Cider
- Mulled Wine
- Smoky Old Fashioned
- Pomegranate Ginger Beer Cocktail
- Apple Cider Mimosas
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*This post was originally written in October, 2012, and updated in 2019 with new photos.
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Nancy Miller says
Thank you for this recipe! The general name of the spirit is “brandy.” To be called “cognac,” brandy needs to comply with certain legal requirements. The name “cognac” comes from Cognac, France, where the spirit was produced originally.
Sean Martin says
If you look at the bottle and the recipe we do call out the use of Cognac from the Cognac region of France.
Robert Turner says
I love hot toddy. I make mine with hot tea. A table spoon of cognac 1/2 tea spoon lemon 2 table spoon sugar dab of cinnamon. Watch out now. Mr blt
Sean Martin says
I’m ailing with a nasty cold so my beloved husband is making me a toddy! Im a lucky lady!
Sean Martin says
Winning!!!!! but sad your sick 🙁 Get better soon!
Ugh drooling. I’ve been making virgin hot toddies since I’m pregnant, but it’s not even close to being as good!!
Catherine @ To & Fro Fam says
There’s something so comforting about hot toddys. I always order one if I have to go out for an event but am feeling on the cusp of a cold. Now that I raise my own bees and am lucky to harvest their honey, I should make them at home, too!
Too bad Hot Toddies can’t magically cure the common cold! Wouldn’t that be amazing? As always, your photos are gorgeous. I wanna reach out and grab a Toddy off my screen…
R H Sattur says
How would a little variation work? Take a thimble full (about 30 ml) of Cognac, add a bit of pepper powder, honey and lemon juice. Mix well and add hot water to the mix. Throw in a bit of cinnamon and banish that cold and sore throat. Least it will do for you is put you into a nice slumber and you will wake up fresh and raring to go next morning.
That sounds delish, love the pepper powder idea!!
My son’s Russian figure skating coach once told me to partake of a warmed cognac and apple juice toddy before bed for cold/cough/sore throat/flu/whatever….for the “cure.” I did so and it worked. Even if it wasn’t a “cure,” I didn’t care any longer and woke up Jim Dandy compared to the day before. Must have been that apple juice.
I’m about to try this. I’ve been stopped up since sunday (4 days). Thanks for posting
When honey is added to boiling water its flavour changes. .what do h suggest
Things I’ve Learned Whilst Convalescing With a Toddy
While the myriad ways in which lemons are beneficial to health can not be understated, I’ll attempt it by saying only that they are high in vitamin C, which fights free radicals and boosts our immune system. If you already have fresh lemons at home, skip the slicing and juice that sucker instead: two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice per serving of toddy who’ll not only expedite your body’s healing process but completely transform the flavor profile* of your steaming mug of goodness.
*I’ve never used a cinnamon stick in a toddy so I can’t recommend using it with the lemon juice.
well been rotten with the flue / cold for about 3 weeks now so going to have the brandy toddy but no cinnamon sticks 🙁 , so might just have to take a second toddy to make up for it :-))
That sounds like a great idea! Hope you feel better soon! I caught a nasty cold this weekend and it keeps getting worse. I may have to join you in a double hot toddy!
I know you posted this forever ago, but thank you! This was exactly the recipe I was looking for to soothe my throat. It’s so yummy, I will drink this all season long!
I’m so happy it helped! It’s still an all time favorite around here… especially this time of year 🙂
Tank you!! Sittning here in a rainy Sweden and starten to feel cold this afternoon :(. Just in the middle of prepairing the desserts for newyearseve. This was just what I needed, at least this tasted good 🙂
Hugs fr.o.m. Sweden
So glad you like it! It’s definitely a great warm treat on a cold day 🙂
If I wasnt feeling so rotten I would rush out and buy the ingredients…
Oh Andrew, you should always have these things on hand… just in case 🙂
I fear hot beverages. Is there a tepid, or cool version?
No need to fear hot beverages! It’s what soothes the throat. But if you must, you can certainly enjoy it cool. The flavors will still be just as delicious.