A hot toddy

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By Robert Harland

What's cooking?

Monday, August 25, 2014

I WAS at the Elks Club in Makati recently to celebrate its 112th anniversary in the Philippines. It was a splendid evening - good food, great company and some first-class wines. The guest of honor was US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.

At the end of a long evening, it was time for a nightcap before heading home. But I really couldn't face another glass of wine. No, what I really fancied was a hot toddy.

A hot toddy is a classic mixed drink consisting of rum, whisky or brandy with honey or sugar plus spices and lemon juice and served hot.


I’m not sure why it crossed my mind. I hadn't had a hot toddy in years. Alas, a quick search of the drinks menu showed no hot toddy so I settled instead for an Irish coffee.

I mentioned this to the club's president, Larry Thomas. He thought it would be an excellent idea to have a hot toddy on the menu. He asked me to suggest a basic recipe so that Joseph Espinas, the club's long-serving waiter/captain, could experiment.

This is the simple recipe I sent the club:

Rum Hot Toddy


2 Tbsp rum
1 Tbsp honey
1 slice of lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice
Pinch of cinnamon
Boiling water


Add the rum, honey, lemon and cinnamon in a thick glass
Fill with hot water and stir to mix
Taste and add more honey or lemon if desired

As simple as that.

I was back in the club last week and President Larry presented me with the result of Joseph's experiments - an Elks Club hot toddy. It was perfect with just the right amount of cinnamon.

Hot toddy recipes vary and are traditionally drunk before going to bed or in wet or cold weather. Some drinkers (including me) believe they relieve the symptoms of colds and flu.

Many say the hot toddy was invented in Scotland. While the word toddy has a Scottish ring about it, it's been suggested the word comes from the Hindi word tadi - an Indian drink made by fermenting the sap of palm trees - a drop similar no doubt to our own tuba.

I was first introduced to hot toddies in the 1980s in Hong Kong at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.

Years ago, a prominent member, the late Miss Pat Loseby, came into the club bar one day after a cold and wet afternoon racing her Dragon class yacht in the harbor. She had a touch of flu and wasn't feeling great so she asked the club barman to make her a hot toddy.

With Pat's help, the Chinese barman, who had not heard of a toddy, produced a hot drink that Pat said was just the job. It became a regular item for members, especially on cold days. It soon became known as a Hoi Lung (Sea Dragon), after the Chinese name of Pat's yacht.

Here are the ingredients:

Hoi Lung

1 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Orange Cordial
1 oz Lemon Cordial
Fill a thick glass mug with boiling water

It's still a favorite in the club's bar.

It's a matter of personal taste whether you choose rum, whisky or brandy for a hot toddy. Each bring their own characteristics to the drink. But rum seems to be the preferred spirit in Asia.

You can have fun experimenting with hot toddies. Next time you have a touch of flu, before setting off to see your doctor, get out the rum and honey. The effect might be psychological, but there is nothing more comforting on a cold and wet day when you have the sniffles than a hot toddy.

And it's a hell of a lot more fun than Neozep!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 25, 2014.


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