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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party!

October 2012  

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

Let's Party - Hot Toddies

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith

Hot Toddy
This month we are looking at hot toddies. Whether you are having a group round to celebrate on November 5th, or planning a Christmas event, when it is cold outside being greeted with a warm drink can start a party with a real buzz.

The term “hot toddies” today covers a range of warming drinks, usually served in a glass and usually containing alcohol.

There is some confliction over how the name originated but it has been suggested that it comes from the toddy drink in India which was produced in the days of Empire by fermenting the sap of palm trees. Some references suggest the name was introduced first into Scotland by a member of the British East India Company and then spread across the British Isles.

The traditional accepted hot toddy in the UK is made with whisky, but today there are a range of wonderful ideas for hot toddies based around different drinks including rum, brandy, gin and even cider. To make a hot toddy, a hot liquid is added to the spirit base, this can be hot tea, coffee, cocoa, water, or even lemonade; and a sweetener is also usually added such as honey, sugar or syrup.

To give individual flavour, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, mint or cloves, juice or small slice of a citrus fruit such as lemon or orange, and sometimes a knob of butter can be added. There are so many different recipes today, so it can be fun in experimenting a little to find the one right for your event.

It is important to check you have the right glasses. hot toddies in mugs or cups just don’t have the right feel and the drink really should be served in a glass. However, suddenly adding really hot liquid to glass can cause cracks or even shatter the glass, so care needs to be taken. The ideal is to invest in the slightly sturdier Irish coffee glasses that are on sale in most supermarkets. Alternatively, when you add the hot liquid, with the other hand hold a metal spoon in the cup without touching the edges and pour the liquid over this into the glass. This can help prevent cracking.

It makes sense to warm the glasses first by adding some heated water, and then pour in the alcoholic drink before adding the heating liquid. A Hot Toddy shouldn’t be too hot, just on the hot side of warm is perfect.

A nice little extra is to decorate the glass with a cut slice of fruit or even a dollop of cream if appropriate to the recipe, and a cinnamon stick is perfect to use as a stirrer.

Hot toddies are usually made in the kitchen by the cooker and handed around from there but you can put them into a large jug or bowl and serve from a table in the party room or outside. The problem here is that the Toddy can cool off very quickly and a cold Toddy really does lose its attraction. Some people like to warm the honey and lemon juice, or whatever other ingredients they are using, in the microwave first before adding the hot liquid and alcoholic drink. Hot Toddies should never be boiled as the alcohol will disappear and the flavor will change.

The internet is full of different recipes and also hints such as:

  • Go easy on cloves, they have a very strong flavour that comes out even more in hot liquid
  • Add a couple of crushed juniper berries for an additional aromatic flavour.
  • Add a slice of apple which will soak up the drink and give a lovely extra to finish with.
  • Many people use brown sugar instead of honey which gives a less heavy flavour.
  • Hot tea can work really well with brandy toddies.
  • Earl Grey tea can offer a different flavour from normal black tea.
  • A ginger hot toddy made with ginger liqueur can be especially warming on cold days and evenings.

Of course you can’t ignore people who don’t want to drink alcohol and while hot toddies are really all based around some type of alcohol, you can make an alternative warming drink using tea with honey, lemon juice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. With a little original thinking and experimentation, perhaps using different fruit juices for added flavour, you can create a taste non-alcoholic alternative.

There are lots of recipes on the internet, just google “hot toddy” and you will find lots of ideas and tips.

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