- As a bibulous preamble to the original cocktail, the hot toddy is either adored or reviled by those who have tasted it. The trouble arises when the balance of spirit, hot water and sweetener is off on this delicately balanced drink. Too much booze means, well, too much booze, with the hot water only adding to the alcoholic burn. Too little booze and you end up with sweetened hot water.
Not only do Los Angeles bartenders get the balance right, but they play with distinctly un-toddy-ish ingredients, subbing mezcal and grappa for the usual whiskey, as well as various teas, Allspice Dram and amaro. With National Hot Toddy Day on Sunday, January 11, we thought it was time to celebrate the twisted toddies of Los Angeles. Here's where to find them.
Hot Toddy for a Hot Body at Gracias Madre
We recently mentioned Gracias Madre's beverage director Jason Eisner in conjunction with his vegan eggnog made with mezcal. Mezcal offers a modern twist on Eisner's toddy too, which also incorporates a number of warm spices including cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves blended with black tea. 905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; graciasmadreweho.com
Fig-Infused Whisky Toddy at 41 Ocean
Director of mixology Rob Floyd uses whisky in his hot toddy, but his choice is a Japanese one, which has its own elegant, Scotch-like profile. To elevate the toddy above standard fare, he also infuses extra richness into the whisky with figs, then uses agave for a softer note of sweetness than regular sugar offers. 1541 Ocean Avenue #150, Santa Monica; (310) 566-3870; 41ocean.com
Mint Toddy at Pistola
Mixologist Aaron Melendrez uses mint tea to give his toddy a tingle. Coupled with the more refined flavors present in Jameson Black Barrel (think: vanilla, oak, plus the fruitiness of sherry and sweetness of bourbon in which it is aged) and the notes of Allspice Dram and Angostura bitters, it's a rich herbal/spice combination of winter warmth in a glass. 8022 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles; (323) 951-9800
Nonna's Toddy at Cecconi's
At Cecconi's, Bar, Captain Juan Martinez takes a decidedly Italian perspective with his toddy. Grappa, Luxardo Amaro Abano, and amaretto blend seamlessly with lemon juice and maple syrup. The “hot water” comes in the form of Nonna's tea, steeped with sage, cinnamon, anise and cloves. 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 310-432-2000
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book Gin: A Global History. Her book The 12 Bottle Bar, co-written with David Solmonson, was released July 29. Email her at email@example.com. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.