A bartender’s recipe for classic ginger hot toddy that combines flavors of ginger, lemon zest and whiskey with a sugar free maple syrup to give a keto friendly version. Enjoy this classic ginger hot toddy warm cocktail during winter to soothe your spirit. This variation packs all the flavor of the original with a small percentage of the carbs.
Originally referring to a beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices; the variations of the hot toddy are never-ending. It can be made with a variety of alcohols like whisky, vodka or rum. Moreover, the sugar source also varies with honey being the most common but often replaced with simple sugar or maple syrup.
Many recipes also feature cinnamon as a featured spice or lemon juice as a common accompaniment. The combination of lemon juice with honey in hot water is a common remedy for singers’ voices and sore throats or coughs. Thus, the hot toddy naturally gained a reputation as a cold remedy.
How to Make Hot Toddy
Making a classic ginger hot toddy does not require any specialized equipment. Apart from the basic kitchen staples like a knife, saucepan and measuring cups, the only equipment needed are a Zester and a Jigger.
A Zester is a kitchen tool which looks similar to a grater but has smaller sized holes. These small holes are crucial in obtaining zest of citrus fruits and lemons. Zesting is a great way to pack citrus flavor into dishes without adding the sugar from citrus fruits.
A decent jigger is a worthwhile investment for the average home bartender. It helps tremendously with measuring correct portions and pouring into a mix drink. There’s also the coolness factor when mixing cocktails with these in front of your guests.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
The bartender’s secret to a classic ginger hot toddy is tinkering with the lemon juice and honey to satisfy a customer’s taste buds. Sticking to that tradition I was able to come up with a keto friendly recipe that has less than 1g net carbohydrates per serving. The main contributors of carbs in a classic ginger hot toddy is the honey or sugar additives and lemon juice.
Alcohol is one of the base ingredients for a hot toddy recipe. I use Woodford Reserve whiskey because it has over 40% alcohol by volume but also zero carbs per fluid ounce. Rum or Vodka can be used as substitutes instead of whiskey. Some rums gain their dark coloring from molasses, which can greatly increase the recipe’s carb count. Use caution with liqueurs as these usually have higher carb counts.
Fresh ginger root is easiest to peel if it is relatively straight and without many branch points. While ginger is predominantly comprised of carbohydrate molecules, these carbohydrates do not readily break down into sugar. I estimate at most 0.5 g net carbs added to the drink from boiling ginger in the hot water I use. Boiled basil or mint leaves can also be used instead of ginger.
Modern versions of toddy use lemon juice but purists always use water boiled with lemon zest and ginger. This lesser known secret helps imbibe the flavors within the drink and vastly improves the taste tones. Choose a bright yellow lemon with shiny, intact skin without blemishes.
The last key ingredient is the honey or sugar free substitute of choice. I use Sugar Free Maple Syrup which has very few carbs, costs lesser and mixes well with the other ingredients. Try to find a version sweetened with erythritol or stevia. But since a small amount is used, flavoring with a sugar alcohol like maltitol or xylitol would also be fine. Honey can also be used as a substitute. Good quality honey is tough to source and can cost you a few extra dollars. In addition, it tends to be viscous and settle in the bottom of the glass quicker which doesn’t help with presentation.
Bring two cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. This might seem like a lot of fluid but most of it evaporates while boiling. Hence, I double my desired final volume of water. In fact, boiling citrus peels (like in this recipe) increases its antioxidant activity.
While the water warms, prepare the ginger. Cut off a piece about 2 inches long and peel it. I usually try to use my vegetable peeler, but frequently a small paring knife does the job quite well. Once peeled, add to the boiling water.
Thoroughly zest the half lemon. I let the zest accumulate in the zester, then plop it all at once into the boiling water. Boil the ginger and lemon zest for around 20 minutes. In order to extract the ginger and lemon flavors, the water will need to be boiled for this long a time.
After boiling, you can strain the liquid to remove the zest. I usually tend to skip this step because a majority of the zest drifts to the bottom of the pot.
Combine the ginger lemon water, whisky and sugar-free maple syrup to the boiled water. Squeeze the lemon into the pan or after transferring to serving glasses, about 1/2 tablespoon in each glass. Stir with a cinnamon stick or just serve plain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hot toddy might help with a cough because it can thin mucus, making it easier to clear. In addition, the honey temporarily coats the throat, reducing irritation from post-nasal drip. The citric acid from lemon juice can also reduce inflammation as an antioxidant.
Beware that alcohol should not be consumed while taking medication.
Any complex, full-flavored bourbon like Woodford Reserve is ideal for a hot toddy recipe. A smooth vodka or spiced rum would also be good substitutes.
Classic Ginger Hot Toddy
- Cutting Board
- Vegetable Peeler
- Sauce Pan (Medium Size)
- 2 cups water
- 1 Ginger Root ,about 2 inches and peeled
- ½ Lemon ,zested with the fruit reserved
- 2 Tbsp Sugar Free Maple Syrup ,or honey
- 2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
- Add two cups water in a medium sized saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Meanwhile peel the ginger root and zest the lemon skin.
- Add the peeled ginger root and lemon zest to the boiling water. Continue boiling the water with the peeled ginger root and lemon zest for around 20 minutes.
- Turn off the stove and let the saucepan cool for a few minutes. Add the sugar-free maple-flavored syrup (or honey) and bourbon to the water.
- Squeeze juice from the leftover lemon into the pan. Stir lightly.
- Transfer the cooked toddy into glasses in equal proportions. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or just serve plain. Serve while hot.