Friday Happy Hour: Hot Apple Toddy

The Toddy is a drink that has stood the test of time, dating back to the American Colonial period.  It’s delicious, smooth, and – when made hot – keeps the cold at bay better than most anything else.  This version incorporates both apples, making it sweeter and fruitier, and apple brandy, a quintessentially American liquor.  Looking for something to keep you warm this fall?  A drink to follow Thanksgiving dinner?  This is your drink.

Read below for the recipe!

Hot Apple Toddy

2 oz Applejack or Apple Brandy
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz honey
1 splash lemon juice
4 oz boiling water
1/2 of a baked apple

Slice an apple in half and bake it in the oven at 350° for 30-45 minutes until soft.  Peel off the apple skin (it should come off easily once baked), combine the apple with all the liquid ingredients except the water and muddle together until the apple has dissolved into pulp.  A pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon can work well here.  Strain into a mug or a tempered glass and – the best part on a cold night – add the boiling water (a little at a time if you’re using a glass to avoid cracking).  Garnish with an apple slice or cinnamon stick and drink piping hot.  Enjoy the feeling of warmth returning to frozen limbs.


If you’re in a rush, you can always skip the baked apple.  A Hot Toddy, made from spirits, sugar, and hot water is pretty great with or without the fruit.

A note on spirits: You can make this drink with brandy or whiskey, but applejack or apple brandy make this a drink our earliest forebears would have enjoyed on a cold night on the frontier.  Pretty much everyone back then was making and drinking applejack.  Applejack was traditionally made by freeze distillation: fermented apple cider would be frozen in winter, the ice skimmed off periodically to reduce the water content and increase the proof until you had brandy.  When John Chapman, better known today as Johnny Appleseed, traveled around the country in the early 1800s planting apple orchards, he planned to sell them to settlers not so they could bake pies, but so they could make, sell, and drink applejack.

It’s not so easy to get real applejack these days.  Laird’s sells a liquor and calls it applejack, but it’s really a blend of apple brandy and (mostly) neutral spirits, which means a lot of the color and flavor is added artificially.  Look for an unblended, aged apple brandy or Calvados.  You’ll get pretty much the same flavor and body, though they’re not freeze distilled.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

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