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Classic Ginger Hot Toddy

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In this soul-warming drink, the traditions of Indian warmth meet the classic appeal of a hot toddy, creating a harmonious blend perfect for winter evenings. This delightful beverage, known for its comforting and versatile qualities, combines bourbon’s richness, ginger’s spiciness, and aromatic spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Whether you’re seeking a cozy indulgence or a remedy for a sore throat, this recipe will become a winter favorite.

About this Recipe

Hot Toddy

This Hot Toddy stays true to the classic while introducing distinctive elements for a standout experience. This version maintains the fundamental combination of bourbon, brown sugar, and traditional spices like cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom.

What is unique about this recipe is the addition of fresh, boiled ginger slices. The result is a balanced blend of timeless ingredients and a nuanced spiciness, creating an authentic and flavorful hot toddy that stands out without deviating from the traditional roots.

Close up of the garnishes of hot toddy.
Garnish with a slice of lemon, star anise, and a cinnamon stick.

Although there are many stories about its origins, the Hot Toddy may have originated in India, as its spice profile suggests. The name “Toddy’ appears to come from the “Toddy Palm” or tadi. These palm trees are grown in India and many parts of the tropical world for their fruit.

When I was a kid, my family made frequent trips between our city home in Mumbai and our farm home three hours away when we were kids. My brother and I often played “spot the tadi” on the long drives to entertain ourselves.  Keeping our eyes peeled for the toddy palms with clay pots tied to them gave us endless hours of entertainment. We especially loved it if we were lucky enough to see someone climbing the tree to retrieve the tadi.

Hot Toddy by Indiaphile.info
Toddy Palm. Photo by Srinivasa Krishna

I have had the delicious fruit of the toddy palm. Us Gujaratis call it tadgola. It looks like a miniature coconut. It even has a thin outer husk. Once the husk is removed, you get a translucent, juicy fruit that resembles a lychee and tastes like a tender young coconut.

The juice from a tadgola can be fermented into an alcoholic beverage called toddy, which is most likely where the Hot Toddy got its name. Unfortunately, toddy has a short shelf life. Efforts to export and commercialize it have all failed. Which brings us to the Hot Toddy, which is now most often made with Whiskey (especially Bourbon Whiskey), rather than Toddy.


Ingredients for hot toddy: whiskey, ginger, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon stick, lemon slice, and brown sugar.

Bourbon (Whiskey): Choose your favorite bourbon or whiskey for a personalized touch.

Ginger: Adds spiciness and forms the base flavor.

Cardamom: Adds an aromatic Indian touch.

Cinnamon: Acts as a stir stick and imparts warming spice.

Star Anise: Adds a subtle anise finish and serves as a beautiful garnish.

Lemon: Balances sweetness with citrus tartness.

Brown Sugar: Adjustable to taste; reduced for modern preferences. Honey can be used as a substitute.

Serving Suggestions

The Bourbon Hot Toddy, a classic winter beverage, draws inspiration from traditional recipes with a nod to Indian flavors. Perfect for winter evenings, it is often enjoyed as a remedy for sore throats or as a cozy indulgence during cold weather.

The inspiration for this Bourbon Hot Toddy comes from infusing classic recipes with Indian flavors, creating a memorable and unique drinking experience. Pair with other winter drinks or hot cocktails for a festive gathering. Some similar drinks are Chai Bourbon Fizz and Mississippi Delta Infusion.

Hot Toddy by Indiaphile.info


  • Avoid over-steeping the star anise to prevent an overpowering flavor. 
  • Adjust sugar levels and choice of whiskey based on personal preference.
  • Substitute honey for brown sugar if you prefer.
  • Choose your preferred whiskey for a personalized touch.

This tested and perfected Bourbon Hot Toddy recipe promises a delightful fusion of tradition and innovation, making it a must-try for winter evenings and festive gatherings.

Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy

A hot toddy is a tea a classic tea and whiskey drink that got its name in India.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Indian
Servings 1
Calories 208 kcal


  • 1 cup water double the water if you don’t want it super strong
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger about 1/4 inch wide
  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice use less if you don’t like it too lemony
  • 1 cinnamon stick each broken into two
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 slice of lemon for garnish


  • Boil the water with the fresh ginger added in.
  • Line up four serving mugs and fill each with 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise and 2 cardamom pods.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of boiling water into each mug.
  • Add 1 oz of Bourbon into each mug and stir (at this point, I usually take out all the spices except the star anise)
  • Serve hot garnished with a lemon slice.



Feel free to use either whiskey, gin or rum if you prefer and to switch out the spices to your tastes.


Serving: 10ozCalories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 17mgPotassium: 124mgFiber: 3gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 16IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 77mgIron: 1mg
Keyword whiskey
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

(Originally published November 12, 2012; with major updates November 30, 2023)



  1. I’ve never actually had a hot toddy but seeing a couple of hot toddy’s appear in the overview of the entries for the challenge I am now very tempted to make one myself and it is certainly cold enough! Love your image!!

  2. My wife and I had many hot toddys during our time in Kolkata. I’ve been trying to recreate it for a while now but it was never quite right. Your recipe is perfect. Thank you.

  3. Winter is a torment for me but with these amazing drink ideas kept me warm throughout. Of course more of it is left so I cant wait to explore the entire list.

5 from 11 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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