Although Los Angeles is currently “suffering” from 80-degree weather, we still like cozying up to fireplaces and hot cocktails because, hey, that’s what we’re supposed to do during winter, right? Good thing there are hot toddies popping up all over town (the folks behind National Hot Toddy Day on January 11–yes, there’s a “holiday” for everything–must be excited). And it’s not just spiked hot tea but also actual well-crafted hot cocktails with ingredients like pie crust-infused rye and housemade chai blend.
At Terrine, barman Ryan Wainwright was sick of tasting toddies that were either muddied with too many elements or too watery. For his toddy at the new brasserie, he wanted to keep things simple and booze-forward. “I feel like it should be a booze tea,” he says. So when Wainwright first tasted Dewar’s 15, he was inspired. “Because it tastes like lemons and honey. It already has all those elements in it and I wanted to build on that, sort of layer on top of that,” he says. “A tiny bit of ginger just to round out the spice and then boom!”
Cecconi’s “Nonna’s Toddy” was named and created for chef Alessio Biangini’s grandmother, who used to make tea with sage and lemon. “As I came up with the cocktail, I thought of sage and lemon as my base, but still wanted to add the traditional hot toddy spices like cinnamon, cloves, and anise,” says bar captain and drink creator Juan Martinez. To keep it Italian, he spiked it with Bocale Sagrantino Grappa, Luxardo Amaro Abano, and Disaronno Amaretto liqueur.
For apple pie in a mug, cuddle up to 1886’s Apple Pie Hot Toddy. The Raymond’s sous chef Chris Hoey actually infused rye with pie crust. The comforting concoction of lemon, brown sugar, and the pie crust-infused rye whiskey is topped with green apple foam.
Pistola’s Mint Toddy: It’s what winter colds crave. That magic combination of steaming hot mint tea and Irish whiskey will open up your sinuses. Restaurant bar manager Aaron Melendrez drank mint tea every day when he was growing up, so for him that combination “always brings you back to a very comfortable part in life,” he says.
Gracias Madre barman Jason Eisner, a chai connoisseur, made his own Bhakti Chai blend for his “Hot Toddy for a Hot Body.” “Bhakti is distinguished from other chai blends in that it is fiery, spicy, and very ginger-forward in its flavor profile, which works in perfect harmony with the other ingredients, as well as the aged variety of mezcal that we use,” says Eisner. And according to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing system, chai is believed to awaken the mind and body. Perfect way to start the year.