fall hot toddies | with leopold bros. + dram apothecary

cocktails, drinks, fall, gin, whiskey

the blog

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! I know I’m a little late with the well wishes, but the love is here, nonetheless. I wanted to unplug for the holiday, which was just the right call. I trust you enjoyed your time with family or friends {or even treasured time alone}. Steve and I had originally planned to just cozy up, watch old Christmas specials, and fix a feast for the two of us. Snow was in the forecast, so we didn’t have the desire to venture out. Work’s been rather stressful as of late, so we really didn’t want to do much socializing.

A cheery, last-minute invitation from two of our most cherished friends changed our minds. We chose an armful of our favorite wines, bundled up for the brisk, 20-degree weather, hastily threw an apple pie together, and made the hour-long journey to the town of Larkspur, a sparsely populated town that spans rolling hills and boasts the most spectacular views of Pike’s Peak and the Front Range. We got to meet some peacocks, hang out with about 30 or so new-to-us friends, frolic with some hens and turkeys, and talk beekeeping with a rancher.

More on this crazy visit in another post.

Even though that pie was the worst pie I’ve made in my life so far, the time spent with old and new friends on a ranch out on the foothills, on the snowiest day of the year, was one of the most memorable. I am, however, baking another pie tomorrow morning to prove I’m still capable of nailing a flaky crust. Because redemption.


Late fall and Thanksgiving always bring the subject of hot toddies to mind. I’ve been smitten with them this year, in fact. There are countless versions and riffs on this very basic, warm cocktail. The original or classic toddy recipe is quite simple: add a shot or so of whiskey to a mug or cup, a little cane sugar or honey, a squeeze of lemon, and a splash of hot water. Classic toddies don’t take much thought to make, but like a solid gin and tonic, their deliciousness lies in their simplicity.

I recently attended a hot toddy workshop over at one of my favorite kitchen and home shops here in Denver, Hazel & Dewey, just off Broadway. When I heard that Shae Whitney, local bitters-maker and founder of DRAM Apothecary, was there to talk toddies with Leopold Bros. spirits, I had to sign up. I met up with a couple of friends, and we all took notes. We crafted our own toddies, some with gin and others with whiskey, and we shared our creations with each other. Hiccups all around.

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Because hot toddies are all about the whiskey, I strongly suggest using one of good quality. One of my favorites is Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Whiskey. It’s a local Colorado whiskey, whose first release was in 2010. There’s nothing artificial ever added to their whiskeys or their liqueurs. In fact, when Leopold Bros. was obtaining its labeling certification from the FDA for their peach whiskey, they were required to list their raw ingredients. Fair enough, right?

Well, the FDA couldn’t believe that they weren’t using chemicals to flavor their award-winning peach whiskey. To prove that they were actually using freshly picked peaches to flavor their peach whiskey, Leopold Bros. had the farmer who grew the peaches mail a few to the FDA. It’s really a sad awakening to know that your labeling agency is shocked when they see that whole foods are used to flavor products, instead of the more frequently used chemical additives.

classic hot toddy

  • 1 1/2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey {I used Leopold Bros.}
  • 1 teaspoon honey or cane sugar
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3-4 ounces boiling water
  • citrus wedge or cinnamon stick, for garnish
  1. Pour the whiskey into your cup or mug and add the sweetener of your choice, along with the lemon juice.
  2. Add the boiling water and stir to dissolve the honey or sugar.
  3. Garnish with a wedge of lemon or orange and toss in a cinnamon stick for flavor and flair.
  • For all toddy recipes, be sure to warm up your glass or cup, so that the drink stays warm. You’ll be adding room-temperature whiskey, so heating the glass or cup only ensures that you’ll be enjoying a hot beverage.
  • Make your toddy even cozier by substituting the water with hot apple or pear cider!

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At the workshop, Shae provided a super fun spread for us to craft our own toddies. There was a wide range of base spirits: Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Gin, Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Whiskey, and their decadent, earth-shakingly delicious New York Apple Whiskey. Shae also brought a bottle of her newest product, a ginger switchel, which is a tart, spicy drinking vinegar that pairs perfectly with that apple whiskey. There were fresh rosemary and sage sprigs, thinly sliced lemon and orange wheels, and all of Shae’s handmade bitters. Each of our toddies was uniquely crafted, thanks to all of the options.

Here were my two favorite renditions. I’ve been making them on the repeat the past few weeks. Toddies, as we all know, come in quite handy when sore throats and coughs lurk around. But you don’t need to be sick on the couch to enjoy their cozy vibes.

maple + lemon gin tea toddy

  • 1 to 1 1/2 ounces gin {I used Leopold Bros.}
  • 1 teaspoon or so maple syrup
  • 1 bag DRAM Lemon Ginger Toddy Tea
  • hot water
  • 2-3 dashes DRAM “Hair of the Dog” Bitters
  • 2 lemon slices, for garnish
  • sprig of thyme or other fresh herb, for garnish
  • Preheat your glass or cup with hot water.
  • Empty the water out and pour in the gin and maple syrup.
  • Drop in one bag of tea. You may also substitute chamomile tea, green tea, or black tea, if you can’t find DRAM’s lemon ginger toddy tea.
  • Fill the rest of the vessel with hot water off the boil, add a few shakes of bitters, and garnish with a couple of lemon slices and a sprig of thyme. Let the tea brew to your desired strength, as you enjoy, and discard the bag of tea, when finished.

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ginger + apple whiskey toddy

  1. Preheat your glass or cup with hot water.
  2. Empty out the water and pour in your whiskey, ginger liqueur, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Stir well.
  3. Add the hot water, just off the boil.
  4. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, whole star anise, or dried orange slices.

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Here’s to the crazy month of December and staying sane, savoring the snowy evenings, and making cozy drinks just because. I’ll close with a few other toddy recipes which caught my eyes. I’d love to know your favorite toddy renditions and twists! I’ll be sure to post Thanksgiving photos of the farm and ranch, as soon as I get around to uploading them. Until then, have an amazing start to December.

If you’re local, you can find most of Shae’s bitters and teas at Hazel & Dewey {say hello to Jenna!} here in town; otherwise, shop the DRAM website, regardless of where you live!

Oh, and wish me luck on that pie tomorrow!



creative hot toddies in other fun places


  1. Maple and lemon gin tea toddy!!! YUM! I must try this. It sounds amazing. Also: I don’t think I’ve ever really had a legit hot toddy, but they remind me of one of the most romantic nights of my life, in this strange outpost dive bar in Joshua Tree called Pappy & Harriet’s, where we were caught in a snowstorm last year. A California high desert snow storm! Insane. And just happened to be stuck with someone I’d had a crush on for ten years. Eep! Good things ensued.

    • I know – crazy combo, right?! Shae was the one who got me thinking about a hot gin drink. It’s my favorite spirit, by far, so I had to try it nice and hot. That romantic scene is the start of a juicy novel or at least a short story. And Pappy & Harriet’s is THE coolest name for a bar. Actually, there’s another one just as cool here in Denver, and it’s Beatrice & Woodsley. I’ve had a few romantic sparks there, as well! I’m laughing out loud…! And their Bloody Marys are legendary. XO!

  2. […] lot of my dried orange slices from last winter, and I’ve been topping them on everything from hot toddies to persimmon margaritas to this gem right […]

  3. Miriam Novoa says:

    How can I make those dried orange slices?

    • Hi Miriam – I made mine in a food dehydrator on its lowest setting, after slicing my oranges about a 1/4 inch thick. You can also oven-dry them on low for a while. I haven’t done that method, but you can find it online easily!

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