Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hot Toddy

There's a picture of me at age one or so, sitting in the middle of a bucolic field, wearing adorable footed pajamas, and screaming my head off. We had taken a family trip to a local educational farm, where in addition to viewing the antique harvesters and free-ranging chickens, you could purchase bottles to feed to the wet-eyed baby goats and cows and such. But when I saw those bottles, chocked full of Purina Instant Goat Formula, I wanted them for my very own, and no amount of logic could convince me that they weren't for human consumption. Screaming ensued.

My parents were undoubtedly trying to protect me from some species-jumping zoonotic virus and the like, but they were also protecting me from this sad fact of life: often the things you covet end up not being what you'd thought they'd be at all. As any kid who has chomped a square of baking chocolate can attest, this is one of the disappointing realities of growing up.

I experience this same oh-I-thought-this-would-be-much-better wash of disappointment whenever I drink mulled wine. It promises toasty happiness, a boozy warm blanket on cold days. But instead, it often delivers a heavy, overly-sweetened and overly-seasoned concoction, too cloying to enjoy. I'm someone who normally lightens up my sweet sangria with a good splash of something bubbly to cut through, so I suppose it's no surprise that mulled wine is often a let-down for me. I much prefer a hot toddy.

Toddies take many forms, but my favorite is simple cup of weak tea, brightened up with lashings of lemon and ginger, sweetened (but not too much) with a bit of honey, and spiked with a shot of bourbon. It's barely a recipe at all, but is one of the most satisfying ways to warm up (and slow down) on cold days. The grown-up world has its disappointments, sure. But man does it have its benefits.

Hot Toddy

yields 2

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 bag black tea (use decaf if your constitution requires)
1/2" ginger, scrubbed and sliced into thin coins
1 lemon
1-2 tsp honey, or to taste
2 shots bourbon (rum is also fine, if you prefer it)

Set the teabag and ginger in a container with the hot water and let steep. While steeping, juice the lemon (reserving a couple slices for garnish if desired). Add the lemon juice and honey to taste. Remove the teabag, and divide the liquid between two cups. Add a shot of bourbon to each, stir and enjoy.


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