Bourbon Hot Toddy

Ward off winter’s chill with a warm Bourbon Hot Toddy. This classic cold-weather warmer is a cozy cocktail made with your favorite whiskey, honey, lemon and spices.

a bourbon hot toddy on a white background

Warm bourbon, sweet honey, tart lemon and fragrant spices — each one, inviting on their own. Together, an alluring elixir filled with warmth.

Hot toddies are salvation on a cold winter night.

My mother sometimes let me sip on a small, weak version of a hot toddy when I was young and feeling under the weather. Some people swear by this warm drink to get rid of the common cold!

They’re notorious for soothing a sore throat, but they’re lovely as a warming nightcap to end the night, too.

a bourbon hot toddy on a white background with cinnamon sticks, star anise and half a lemon

What is a hot toddy?

Though the word “toddy,” can often refer to any drink that’s served hot, it’s not the same.

A hot toddy is a classic cocktail made with any combination of a warmed spirit and a sweetener, like simple syrup, maple syrup or honey.

Nowadays citrus is usually involved, sometimes even black tea. For example, this clementine hot toddy uses a type of mandarin orange for a sweet spin.

Bourbon Hot Toddy recipe

Hot toddies can be made with any spirit, usually rum or whiskey. This hot toddy is made with bourbon, a type of American whiskey that’s distilled from a mash made primarily of corn.

This hot whiskey drink is a classic and will warm you right up on chilly evenings.

a bourbon hot toddy cocktail in a glass mug

Hot Toddy Ingredients


If you have a favorite bourbon, use it here! I love Old Forester for its sweet caramel flavor it brings to a drink at a good price, but there are many more options out there that would be equally delicious.

My cinnamon whiskey or my honey whiskey would also be really delicious. Check out my Bourbon 101 guide if you need help picking a brand to buy for this honey bourbon cocktail.

Feel free to use rye whiskey, scotch or Irish whiskey if you prefer. Even a dark rum or an aged tequila can be quite delicious. There’s no wrong way to warm up on cold nights!


Lemon and honey are a perfect match here, just as they are in this honey lemon whiskey sour.

Make sure you are using pure, 100% honey, and that no corn syrup or other additives are added.

If you can, use local, organic honey. This bourbon barrel-aged honey is one I love that that gives a deeper, more complex taste to this whiskey cocktail.

You can keep honey simple syrup on hand to use for cocktails, and it would work just fine here. Maple syrup or agave nectar would also be lovely. In a pinch, use a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar.

juicing mandarin oranges

Fresh citrus

You will use a slice of fresh citrus in your hot drink — the heat will help to impart citrus fragrance and flavor.

A lemon slice or lemon wedge is the traditional choice, but feel free to have fun here. Try one of these options for a citrus hot toddy:

  • clementine
  • tangerine
  • grapefruit
  • lime
  • kumquat
  • blood orange
  • orange

The fresh lemon juice will soak into the cocktail, as will the zest of the lemon peel.

Whole spices

Traditionally a cinnamon stick is used in this comforting cocktail, but you can use any whole spices, such as:

  • star anise pods
  • whole cloves
  • cardamom
  • nutmeg
  • peeled ginger root or candied ginger

You can even add fresh herbs like mint, rosemary or thyme.

Spices do go bad and lose flavor over time, so it’s a good idea to replenish your stock from time to time.


Tap water works just fine, but if you happen to have access to filtered water or bottled water, I recommend using that for an even purer taste.

At our house, we use this Soma water pitcher because it is faster (and tastes better) than the water that comes from the fridge.

You’ll want to warm it up, either in the microwave or with a kettle.

a hot toddy in a glass mug with a blue kitchen towel

How to make a bourbon hot toddy

The whiskey hot toddy is one of those easy recipes. Here’s what to do in a few simple steps:

Add your bourbon whiskey and the honey to a heatproof mug. (I use one of these glass mugs.)

Then top with hot water and stir with a cinnamon stick until the honey has dissolved.

Slide in a lemon slice and add any additional whole spices. Enjoy warm.

a wet cinnamon sticking out of a hot toddy

Warm cocktail recipes

If you’re in the mood for some more drinks, besides the classic hot toddy recipe, that will warm you up on winter nights, I’ve got you covered!

There’s nothing like a warm mug of hot chocolate, but why not add a lil’ something extra? This peppermint hot chocolate is spiked with homemade peppermint vodka, but you can use anything from Irish cream to coffee liqueur to your favorite liqueur. Don’t forget the marshmallows or the boozy whipped cream!

If you’re not a chocolate fan (I know you’re out there!), a warm mug of white hot chocolate is always welcome too.

My great-grandmother always had a pot of Russian tea on the stove in the wintertime. With flavors of pineapple, orange and spices, you can choose to add rum or whiskey, or keep it non-alcoholic. It’s like hot apple cider — but better.

Spiced hot buttered rum is one of the best wintry cocktails of all. The butter makes it smooth and velvety. (Harry Potter fans, you might like to know this butterbeer hot buttered rum exists.)

Last but not least, this yummy mulled wine makes your house smell amazing. Plus, most of the alcohol cooks off so you can enjoy a guilt-free, low-ABV drink if you like!

a closeup of the spices and lemon garnish on a hot toddy

Let me know if you try this delicious bourbon hot toddy! Leave a star rating and review below.

a bourbon hot toddy cocktail in a glass mug

Bourbon Hot Toddy

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Make a bourbon hot toddy to soothe a sore throat or warm you up on a cold night.
5 from 42 votes
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  • ¾ ounces honey
  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 4-6 ounces hot water
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise


  • Add your bourbon whiskey and the honey to a heatproof mug.
  • Then top with hot water and stir with a cinnamon stick until the honey has dissolved.
  • Add a lemon slice, a cinnamon stick and a star anise.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 8ounces Calories: 239kcal Carbohydrates: 31g Protein: 2g Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0.1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g Sodium: 10mg Potassium: 191mg Fiber: 5g Sugar: 20g Vitamin A: 37IU Vitamin C: 58mg Calcium: 74mg Iron: 1mg
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  1. Sherry says

    It’s in the teens here in Michigan right now and I was looking for a hot cocktail to keep me warm. I came across your recipe and had to try it. OMG!! This bourbon hot toddy was so easy to make and hit the spot!! I will be making this drink again!!

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