Homemade Hot Toddy

It's National Hot Toddy Day, another holiday seemingly invented for food writers who need to fill blogs with dubious copy (cough, cough). Not that we have anything against warm cocktails. They're romantic. They're old. They're vaguely medicinal. Amid the tame Los Angeles winter, however, hot toddy consumption lacks a certain urgency.

We don't need to fortify ourselves with a bracing “hot whiskey” as we shiver in our garret attic, writing a brilliant libretto to be discovered only after our death from syphilis. In our velvet cape fantasy, we live during some undecided era in either Dublin or Paris. In present-day L.A., we can simply find a bartender willing to warm up some booze.

Son of a Gun: Chamomile Hot Toddy

3. Chamomile Toddy (Son of a Gun)

The fish house from Animal chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo recently opened for lunch, which means you can have a cocktail before noon and look casually classy doing it. That's one of the many boons of the hot toddy: It's more “grandma's medicine” than it is “pathetic lush.” At Son of a Gun, it's a mellow combination of chamomile tea, honey, lemon and whiskey. lt goes down easy with none of the throat-scorching theatrics of some toddies, but it achieves a subtle, lovely balance.

Ray & Stark's: Oaxacan Holiday

2. Oaxacan Holiday (Ray's & Stark Bar)

Liquor and hot chocolate make an ideal marriage. This drink, which debuted on the bar's seasonal cocktail menu, has depth and richness thanks to three discrete chocolate elements: coco-infused dark rum, crème de cacao and, for a hint of spice, chocolate chili bitters. It's covered with whipped cream to make it a bit more heavenly.

1886: Hot Cider Toddy

1. Hot Cider Toddy (1886)

Sweet and tart, this blend of apple brandy, maple syrup an apple cider is strong and sexy. It's so good, it makes us want to catch a cold, just so we can drink it. It's also a perfect complement to the classic hot toddy at The Varnish.

Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at eshatkin@laweekly.com.

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