Five (Haute) Hot Toddies to Try Around Boston

From rustic teas with woodsy spirits to velvety cocoa with Indian spices, five creative takes on the toasty tipple.

hot toddies boston

Photographs by Emily Sotomayor, GrandTen Bar photo by Jenna Skutnik

As a nightcap before a long winter’s nap, heat plus booze is like the thickest flannel. Even the early New England settlers knew this: Caribbean rum, European whiskey, and other imported necessities fueled Colonial tavern standbys like fire-poker-heated flips, warm punches, and classic toddies (traditionally a dark liquor with hot water, honey, and lemon). Nearly 400 years later, we’re still relying on steamy libations to warm our spirits when temperatures dip faster than the sun—but these days, Boston bartenders are turning up the heat with eclectic, decidedly modern touches.

Hot Rum and Brandy Punch (Pictured Above)

The traditional Victorian recipe calls for Spanish brandy, local rum, citrus, and hot tea. But at Waypoint, beverage director Seth Freidus amps up the classic with warming La Muse Verte absinthe.

1030 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-2300,

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GrandTen Bar
Hot Apple Toddy

Steve Schnelwar sticks to house-made spirits for the cocktails he serves at GrandTen Distilling’s own bar. This toddy, combining spiced Medford rum and oak-aged North County apple brandy with tea, tastes like a less-cloying apple crisp.

383 Dorchester Ave., Boston, 617-269-0497,

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Midwinter Breakfast

Lapsang souchong black tea and spiced Drambuie intensify the smoky qualities of Laphroaig in this hot cocktail, inspired by a morning that beverage director Neil Quigley spent sipping tea on the isle of Islay. It’s served in an antique teapot from Porto’s roving beverage cart.

Ring Road, Boston, 617-536-1234,

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Banyan Bar + Refuge
Oolong Oyuwari

In the classic Japanese cocktail known as oyuwari, a mug of warm water takes the edge off oak-barrel-aged gokoo shōchū. But with a splash of woodsy oolong tea and St. George’s cinnamon-and-clove-spiced pear liqueur, beverage director Jon Kochis gives the complex spirit new depth.

553 Tremont St., Boston, 617-556-4211,

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Hot Chocolate Attempt No. 5

To kick off the infamous winter of 2015, Drink’s Ezra Star made the first in a series of boozy hot chocolates, then ordered Indian take-out. During a later snowstorm, she used similar spices to create another cocoa, igniting three green cardamom pods with Bacardi 151, then topping it off with hot chocolate, coffee liqueur, and Kümmel.

348 Congress St., Boston, 617-695-1806,