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A toddy for me, a toddy for you: A warm drink for the winter season

Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_hot toddy_Dec 2011_gentle cousin
Gentle Cousin Photo by Alex Gregg
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_hot toddy_Dec 2011_tom and jerry
Tom n Jerry Photo by Alex Gregg
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_hot toddy_Dec 2011_odin's mead
Odin's Mead Photo by Alex Gregg
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_hot toddy_Dec 2011_gentle cousin
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_hot toddy_Dec 2011_tom and jerry
Austin Photo Set: News_Tavaner Sullivan_hot toddy_Dec 2011_odin's mead

Ask both Contigo’s Houston Eaves and Alex Gregg from Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge when’s the best time to have a hot toddy and both will answer — now.

It’s these cold, gray and sometimes drizzly days that make for toddy-drinking weather. Historically a hot toddy, a mixed alcoholic drink made with whiskey, hot water and sugar, was thought to cure a cold. And while it may not actually have that power, it does do a good job of removing winter cold from your bones and making you forget the less-than-stellar weather.

Gregg, one of the toddy geniuses at Anvil Bar & Refuge, approaches toddies as and adult version of his childhood favorite of hot chocolate and marshmallows — a source of warmth and comfort and perfect for sitting around a campfire with good friends. And when developing a toddy creation, he seeks an innovative twist on the well-known.

"We want to be creative and offer a take on something classic that's familiar. There is comfort in the familiar," says Gregg. “It's like chicken soup, warm and comforting. But you want to take it to the next level with a different twist of comfort in an unexpected way.”

For example, Anvil’s Southern Tom N Jerry toddy (recipe below), created by Matt Tanner, plays with the delicious and classic combination of brown sugar and pecans. The pecans not only speak to the geographical region, but the time of year — nothing indicates it’s the holidays more than the wonderful smell of a pecan pie in the oven.

According to Gregg, the basic components of a toddy are hot water; a spirit, usually whiskey; a sweetener, traditionally honey, but agave and syrups make for innovative cocktails; some sort of citrus juice, historically lemon zest; a spice element, especially around the holidays; and hot water.

For Contigo’s Eaves, booze, lots of booze, is essential to a good hot toddy. His Branca-Menta Hot Chocolate (recipe below) is made with house-made creme de cacao, Branca Menta — a herbal and bitter liqueur — warm milk and marshmallows. Motivated by a request from a guest — often a source of inspiration for Eaves — the Branca-Menta Hot Chocolate no longer includes chocolate. The altered recipe is made with Branca Menta, Irish cream liquor, benedictine — a sweet Cognac-based liqueur — and water.

Eaves has developed a special toddy menu for Contigo that will offer six or so hot toddies, which will include the Mexican Monk; made with anejo tequila, green chartreuse, lemon juice, agave nectar, house-made ginger bitters and hot water.

 When the dessert dishes have been cleared away and the coffee cups are empty, but everyone is still gathered around the table — not wanting to leave — with the conversation going strong and the stories getting bigger and bigger. This is the perfect point in the meal for a toddy, Gregg says. And this is why these warm cocktails are so perfect for the holidays when friends and families come together.

But of course, a toddy is great on its own, too, wrapped in a serape and curled by a fire. So, next time you have the opportunity, try a toddy. If Eaves or Gregg have anything to do with it, their hot toddy creations will leave you with a smile.

In the name of warmth, bottoms up.


Contigo’s Branca-Menta Hot Chocolate (Created by Houston Eaves)

1 1/2 ounces House-made crème de cacao

1 ounce Branca Menta

2 ounces Warm milk

Marshmallow, grated dark chocolate and mint leaf for garnish

  1. Fill a mug with hot water to warm the cup.
  2. Combine measured ingredients in a shaker tin placed above pint glass filled with hot water.
  3. Stir for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Discard water from the mug.
  5. Pour ingredients into warmed mug.
  6. Garnish with house-made marshmallow, grated dark chocolate and mint leaf.
  7. Enjoy!


Anvil’s Southern Tom N Jerry (Created by Matt Tanner of Anvil Bar & Refuge)

1 pound Brown sugar

4 Eggs

1 cup crushed pecans, blended in a blender or spice grinder until a smooth paste

1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon 

1 1/2 Tablespoons finely ground coffee

Lairds Apple Brandy

Cinnamon stick

  1. Separate eggs 
  2. Whip the egg whites to a stiff froth in a medium mixing bowl
  3. Beat yolks until runny and fold into the beaten egg whites
  4. Fold in brown sugar
  5. Fold in cinnamon, pecans and coffee
  6. In a toddy glass, pour add 1 1/2 oz. of Lairds Apple Brandy and one tablespoon of the brown-sugar batter.
  7. Top off with 4 1/2 ounces of hot water and mix up everything
  8. Garnish with a cinnamon stick
  9. Enjoy!

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