• 1 bag Bengal Spice tea (or similar - Good Earth would be great, or any non-caffeinated chai blend) boiling water (about 3 cups)
  • one lemon
  • 3-4 oz apple brandy (or plain brandy, bourbon, scotch, irish whisky, even rum, if you like)
  • 2 generous tbsp. agave nectar (preferably amber, or use honey or grade B maple syrup)

It’s cold out there today.  It’s cold out there every day.

In fact it has just begun to snow again.  So what better time to share my new favorite hot drink?  Have one tonight!

The name Hot Toddy always sounded so wonderful to me (I think I first saw it in a Dennis the Menace comic strip in the weekday funnies…), so I was pretty disappointed when a friend ordered one in a bar when we were 21 or so and it came back as whiskey, hot water, and a strip of lemon peel with a clove stuck in it (I think that particular bartender didn’t even add any sugar or honey, which is a totally legitimate addition, making it maybe the world’s most disappointing hot toddy ever).

Poking around the internet recently I figured out that things could be much much better.  You can use steeped tea, of course, instead of plain hot water!  Flavor options are limited only by your tea collection!  You can sweeten it!  You can use other kinds of liquor!

So here is my version, using the apple brandy I made a few weeks ago.  It is so warming.  The combination of spices from the tea with the apple brandy, and the lovely caramel flavor of amber grade agave nectar, it’s just like the flavors of apple pie, but with the added benefit of soothing a sore throat, if you happen to have one… in fact, if you take out the alcohol and use lots of lemon and honey, and plain hot water, it’s the cold remedy our dad always made us when we were sick (and which still make for myself whenever I’m sick… THE best soother for a cough or a sore throat).

Apple Brandy Hot Toddy

In a tea pot, steep the one bag of tea in about 3 cups of boiling water, and let steep for a few minutes.

While your tea steeps, get two nice sized mugs (at least 12 oz capacity).  Depending on the size of your lemon, and your taste, squeeze the juice of anywhere from a quarter to a half a lemon into each of the two mugs.  Drop the lemon quarter (or half) into the mug after you squeeze out all the juice, if you like (and if not, rub the peel around the inside of the mug a bit before you discard it, or take a nice strip of peel off with a vegetable peeler and add it to the mug).  Add a tablespoon (or slightly more) agave nectar and 1.5 to 2 oz of apple brandy to each mug.

When the tea has steeped about 5 minutes, fill each mug to the top with the spiced tea, stir, taste to see if it’s sweet enough, and serve.