Happy December, everyone! I know I’m not alone in saying that this is my favorite month of the year, because who doesn’t love the holidays, but I think I have a bit more to celebrate than the average person. On top of all the Christmas celebrations and whatnot, my birthday is the day after Christmas AND my anniversary with Alex is on the 22nd. So pretty much for a week straight there’s something to celebrate every single night. Do I sometimes wish that Alex and I met in June or that I was born in August? You bet I do. But in all actuality, it’s kind of fun to be in party overload and I really try to compartmentalize each event and not lump it all together. For example, when Alex and I are celebrating our anniversary, I try not to even think about what I have to bake for the Christmas Eve dinner or, how many presents I have left to wrap.
But before we get to the end of the month, I have some fun Christmas events coming up that I look forward to every year. One of those events is Hospitality Night: when the streets in downtown Laguna Beach are closed off and it’s one big Christmas party including live music, fake snow, and tons of shopping at all the local shops…and FREE wine and desserts! It takes place every year on the first Friday of December, aka tomorrow! When I was going to high school in Laguna, I NEVER wanted to go because I was a typical teen and thought it was lame but now that I’m older, I find myself collecting ornaments and genuinely getting excited over Christmas lights. I love it.
Lately, it’s been pretty cold - for Southern California standards at least - and we’ve been having a ton of rain. With that, I’ve been craving colder weather-appropriate drinks like wines and today’s recipe: a Hot Toddy. I’ve never been one to enjoy whiskey drinks and although I’ve tried just about every whiskey cocktail that Alex has ever ordered or made at home, I haven’t been able to enjoy it. But when I tried a Hot Toddy for the first time a few year ago at Hospitality Night, I loved it because it was so comforting and cozy that I didn’t even notice the flavor of whiskey. To this day, it continues to be the only whiskey drink that I order.
When we were visiting Maine this last time, we went to a bar called The Snug (featured here in my Portland, Maine City Guide), on a very, very cold night. When I got to the bar and saw someone else drinking a Hot Toddy, I knew I needed to order one for myself. That experience became one of my favorite moments of the trip - warming up with a Hot Toddy while sitting in a private dark booth with friends, on a cold night in Maine. Perfect.
The recipe for a Hot Toddy is extremely easy and requires no skill, unless boiling water is not your thing. Along with your whiskey of choice (whether you prefer blended or bourbon), you’ll add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a bit of honey. To that, you’ll top off the drink with hot water, add a dash of ground nutmeg or cinnamon, and it’s good to go. Also, if you’d like to replace the water with your favorite brewed tea of choice, that is completely allowed. It’ll give the Toddy a bit more flavor and also allows you to mix up the drink based on what tea you use. And a bonus is that Hot Toddies are great for drinking when you have cold or flu symptoms!
P.S. My adorable mugs are from Cost Plus World Market, and I love them. They’re also perfect for hot tea and coffee.
Classic Hot Toddy
Makes 1 drink
1.5 oz whiskey (blended or bourbon)
1 tbsp. honey
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
6-8 oz. boiling water
Pinch of nutmeg, fresh or ground, or ground cinnamon
Cinnamon stick, lemon slice, star anise, whole cloves, to rganish (optional)
To a mug or heatproof glass, add the whiskey, honey and fresh lemon juice.
Carefully add the boiling water to the glass and stir the drink with a spoon. Add a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.
Garnish with your choice of a cinnamon stick, lemon slice, star anise, or whole cloves. Enjoy while it’s warm.