Against Hot Toddies

All I am asking for is a winter alcoholic beverage that tastes good.

Maya Kosoff
5 min readOct 21, 2021


The leaves are turning. There’s a chill in the air (specifically before 11 am when it becomes 70 degrees and then summer again for several hours). The fall varietals of Starbucks coffee drinks have returned to the drink menu. That’s right: It’s fall. And along with the ushering in of the slightly cooler season comes time to trade in your spiked seltzer and IPAs for something warm and refreshing. A hot toddy, perhaps?

Yuck!!! Pee-yew! Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash

Here are some things I have learned about the hot toddy thanks to the internet:

  • The hot toddy is a drink made of liquor and water with honey or sugar, herbs (such as tea), and spices, served hot.
  • In the late 18th century when it was first created, it meant “a beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices.”
  • Some people think it originated in Edinburgh pubs where Scotch whiskey was mixed with a splash of hot water from Tod’s Well, the biggest well in the area, which led to its name.
  • Other people credit its discovery with an Irish doctor named Robert Bentley Todd, who told his sick patients to drink hot brandy, cinnamon, and sugar water together.
  • In reality all of the people who first made hot toddies probably took the name from India, since the etymology of the word toddy is thought to be Indian, from the toddy drink that’s produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees.
  • People drink hot toddies before bed or in cold weather or to relieve cold symptoms.

Here are some things I have learned about the hot toddy thanks to ordering them at bars when it’s cold outside:

  • They taste like warm garbage.
  • If I wanted to mix hot water with whiskey and have a bad time I could just do that at home in a mug my friend Kate handmade for me.
  • I do not like this drink.

“Why don’t you like hot toddies?” perhaps you are saying to me through your computer screen, or however you’re reading this. “Who hurt you?” Here’s the thing: I like all of the individual components of a hot toddy. I love whiskey. I love tea. I love warm drinks. I like honey. However, when combined…



Maya Kosoff

i’m a freelance writer and editor. you can also read me in places like the new york times and vanity fair.