10 Ways The Hot Toddy Is Upping Its Game Around The USA

Simple can be stunning. Consider Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair. Or the career of Ernest Hemingway. Or Brooklyn Decker in a fitted tee shirt. In cocktail culture, few things are simpler than hot toddies. The catchall term dates back to the 17th Century, and encompasses any combination of spirit, warm water and sweetener. While most Americans tend to associate toddies with whiskey or cognac, historically, winter warmers were made with whatever imbibers had on hand — think hot buttered rum in the European colonies in the New World, or bold, bracing scotch in the Highlands. These days, variations abound from sea to shining sea. Here are 10 places upping the hot toddy game.

1. Richmond, VA: Apple Butter Toddy at Rappahannock

One of the few self-proclaimed "farm-to-table" restaurants owned by actual farmers, cousins Ryan and Travis Coxton opened this popular Grace Street spot last December. This year, Rappahonnock keeps things local with the Apple Butter Toddy, a solid winter warmer made from Virginia's own Catocin Creek Rye, farm-fresh apple butter, allspice and a squeeze of lemon. 320 East Grace Street, 804-545-0565, rroysters.com

2. Philadelphia, PA: Hot Toddy at The Dandelion

Stephen Starr's pub-staurant in Rittenhouse Square has an anglophilic hot toddy best enjoyed by those wearing tweed, plaid or some combination thereof. A mix of Christian Brothers Brandy, Twinnings afternoon tea and ginger syrup, the toddy is garnished with a cinnamon stick and lemon wedge, and served in an oh-so-civilized snifter. 124 South 18th Street, 215-558-2500, thedandelionpub.com

3. San Francisco, CA: Baked Alaska at 15 Romolo

This North Beach cocktail joint honors its Basque heritage with sherry and fortified wine cocktails year-round. In the winter, insiders like noted regular Michael Mina request the off-the-menu Baked Alaska drink, which combines hot water with Pavan liqueur, apple juice, spiced apple butter, Chardonnay and a shot of 151 rum. 15 Romolo Place, 415-198-1359, 15romolo.com

4. Indianapolis, IN: Damson Hot Toddy at Cerulean

In downtown Indianapolis, $10 gets you a cocktail and a floorshow. Bartender Micah LeMasters lives up to his moniker with a cup of cheer that literally sets the holidays alight. He takes a mug filled with 108-proof Wild Turkey Rare Breed and water, and lights it on fire, pouring the blazing liquid in and out of a reserve mug as visions of sprinkler systems dance in patrons' heads. The extinguished whiskey is then added to a (heat-proof) glass filled with Averell Damson gin liqueur, lemon and simple syrup. 339 South Delaware Street, 317-870-1320, ceruleanrestaurant.com/indianapolis

5. New York, NY: Tea Time at The Winslow

The Winslow, a pleasantly understated newcomer on a hectic East Village stretch that also includes an IHOP and a Meatball Shop knockoff, has a straightforward gin toddy to cure what ails you. A soothing concoction served in an elegant china cup, it combines Nolet's Silver Dry with honey and freshly brewed TAZO Calm tea, and comes topped with a few pieces of hibiscus and lavender for good measure. 243 East 14th Street, 212-777-7717, thewinslownyc.com

6. Telluride, CO: Spiral Stairs at SMAK Bar

Skier-slash-bartender Ana Coe created this drink for SMAK Bar, the swank space in Telluride's Hotel Madeline, this winter. Named for a nearby ski run, the Spiral Stairs is a restorative blend of Jameson, Domain de Canton ginger liqueur, honey, fresh lemon juice and hot water, and is best enjoyed garnished with a lemon wedge, candied ginger and quick dip in the nearest hot tub. 568 Mountain Village Boulevard, 970-369-0880, hotelmadelinetelluride.com

7. Boston, MA: Hazelnut Toddy at Scampo

Local legend Lydia Shire heads up the kitchen at Scampo, an Italian restaurant in Beacon Hill's Liberty Hotel with exposed brick interiors and an impressive mozzarella menu. La bella vita is alive and well at the gleaming orange cocktail bar, where bartender Lisa Gennawey pours a crowd-pleasing combination of Frangelico, cognac and hot spiced apple cider beneath oversized copper pendant lamps. 215 Charles Street, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com

8. Brooklyn, NY: Meyer Lemon, Tangerine and Rosemary Punch at Extra Fancy

Robert Krueger, who cut his teeth at Manhattan's trailblazing Employees Only, heads up the bar at this Williamsburg cocktail bar/clam shack/annual Christmas tree lot. His warming winter punch does noted New York drinker Dorothy Parker proud by combining her eponymous gin with honey, white wine, orange liqueur and tangerine and Meyer lemon juice, garnished with a Meyer lemon peel and sprig of rosemary. 302 Metropolitan Avenue, 347-422-0939, extrafancybklyn.com

9. Miami, FL: Chamomile Toddy at Yardbird Southern Table

Florida might not be the first place you think of for hot toddies, but this award-winning Dixieland delight pours a killer version courtesy of barman Josh Holliday. He mixes Buffalo Trace bourbon with chamomile tea and a squeeze of lemon, sweetens it with Lillet Blanc and agave nectar, and stirs in a few drops of Angostura to keep things balanced. It may just be the most soothing thing on South Beach. 1600 Lenox Avenue, 305-538-5220, runchickenrun.com

10. Washington DC: Quatrofiasco at Estadio

For proof of the District's long-overdue restaurant revival, look no further than this buzzy Spaniard in Logan Circle. Opened in 2010, Estadio impresses diners and drinkers alike with summertime gin "slushees" and winter favorites like bar director Adam Bernbach's new Quatrofiasco. Part hot toddy, part Irish coffee, the Spanish sipper spikes espresso with almond and orange brandy, then adds a splash of milk. Olé1520 14th Street NW, 202-319-1404, estadio-dc.com

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