Most Scots would not recommend using your prime single malt for a hot toddy (if you are ill you are unlikely to appreciate it!), though they would definitely advocate a dram of Scottish whisky rather than a blend originating from beyond their borders. It has been suggested that the hot toddy was originally invented to help make eighteenth century Scotch more appealing and palatable.
It is believed that the word toddy comes from Tod’s Well (which is sometimes called Todian Spring) on a majestic hill overlooking Holyrood Palace - Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Tod’s Well was a key water supply for Edinburgh, thus the naming of the drink was a natural link, hot water being one of the essential ingredients of a toddy.
Ideally the glass or mug used for the drink should be warmed first – this can be done by filling the receptable that will hold the toddy with hot water which can be discarded once it has heated the container. To minimise the risk of a glass breaking pour the hot water over a silver spoon.
Recipes vary as to the order of the making of a hot toddy, a drink which has become popular far beyond Scottish shores. Some recipes recommend adding hot water to the sugar or honey, allowing it to form a syrupy mixture before adding other ingredients. Others suggest putting all the ingredients in a glass, then adding hot water (if using cinnamon sticks and cloves these should be removed before drinking; another suggestion is to stud a piece of lemon with cloves).
Some people will drink a hot toddy as a preventative measure, to help ward off colds. Others will drink a toddy for pleasure and warmth in the long, dark Scottish winter months. If a group of people are having hot toddies ingredients may be laid out separately so that individuals can concoct a hot toddy to their taste. Whilst children’s hot toddy recipes, without alcohol, are available many Scottish adults have imbibed whisky laced hot toddies as children.
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