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12 Days of Cocktails: Hot to Tot

Posted on Monday, Dec. 22, 2014


There are always cocktail markers for when the seasons change: in the spring it’s a sudden influx of gin and tonic orders, and in the summer it’s all about the Shandies, Sangrias and Moscow Mules. You can always tell when guests are starting to feel the cold infiltrate their bones when the first Hot Tottie of the season is ordered. Hot Totties are amazing, though they are one of those cocktails everyone makes differently. For me, the classic Hot Tottie is comprised of fresh squeezed lemon, honey, big bold bourbon and some hot water. I also love that the Hot Tottie is the perfect cocktail for when you’re feeling under the weather, and is proof that a great cocktail can cure most anything.  For today’s recipe, I created an infused honey syrup that is floral and herbaceous to give you and your guests a lavish version of the classic.

1 cup honey
1 cup water
6 sprigs thyme
1/2 tbsp rose water

METHOD: In a pot over medium heat, combine honey and water. Mix well. Once honey and water have combined, add thyme and rose water.  Simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat, allow mixture to cool and keep in a covered container in the fridge.


GLASSWARE: snifter or mug
GARNISH: thyme

1 oz bourbon
½ oz Cardamaro*
1 oz rose thyme honey
2 oz hot water

Build in glass in order of ingredients listed. Use a spoon to make sure honey syrup is well incorporated while adding to hot water.

* Cardamaro is an Italian herbal liqueur commonly enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif.  Cardamaro is Moscato based and infused mainly with cardoon and blessed thistle (relatives of the artichoke) along with a slew of other herbs and spices. The flavor is nutty and delicately sweet with some spice notes. Never aggressively bitter, Cardamaro drinks like a relative of sweet vermouth.

DON’T WORRY: Rose water is readily available at most grocery stores in the cool aisle where they sell all the wonderful stuff from around the world. It’s a pretty potent substance, so if you’re hesitant about using it (or you just can’t find it) no worries – simply swap it out for a nice floral tea.  Create the honey syrup in a similar fashion but steep the water with your tea of choice (something like hibiscus or lavender would be delicious). Once steeped, add the honey to the tea water and stir until it dissolves.

WITH A TWIST:  Switch out the booze with apple brandy, rye, or another whiskey.  You can also omit the Cardamaro, or swap it out with a nice sweet vermouth or another Italian amaro like Averna. Cardamaro is a great addition to a home bar.

LIKE A VIRGIN: You can also use the flavored honey syrup to seriously step up your hot tea game.

PARTY TIPS:  To pre-batch this cocktail for a party, mix the honey and hot water prior to serving and keep warm in a thermos (thus omitting the time it takes to stir the honey into your cocktail). Next, guests add their booze of preference to the pre-mixed hot water/honey concoction.

Cheers, and keep it tot!

Your neighborhood bartender,
Catherine Manabat