Friday, March 6, 2009

toddy week

Last week was hopefully the last extended period of cold-cold weather this winter. I guess it is fitting that I decided to drink hot toddies whenever we went out. At its most basic, a hot toddy is composed of 1-2 oz. of the liquor of choice, 1 tsp. - 1 Tbsp. of sweetener, 4 oz. hot water, and some sort of spice-infused citrus as garnish.

My first toddy of the week was a smoky-peaty scotch hot toddy, served at Rendezvous (2/26/09). Scott shocked us by grabbing the Caol Ila 12 year (instead of Famous Grouse) off the shelf to pair with a dash of Fee's orange bitters and a generous dollop of honey. I'd never tasted it except vicariously through reading about it in one of my favorite science fiction books - Diamond Mask by Julian May. The protagonist's family comes from Islay, and in the book they tour one of the distilleries.

Since it had warmed me up so nicely, I asked for another toddy variant. Scott came back with a version of the classic bourbon-based hot toddy. He sweetened this one with maple syrup, and added Fred's new Smoking Ban Bitters. This drink was an excellent showcase for the bitters, starting off very vanilla-y (from the bourbon and the generous amount of vanilla in the bitters reinforcing each other) and tobacco-y (maybe from the bourbon's charred oak combining with the tobacco leaf in the bitters), and finishing with a complex tartness. Both toddies were garnished with twisted-together orange and lemon peels studded with cloves.

On Sunday (3/1/09), a snowstorm was brewing, so we headed over to Drink to keep Sam, Misty, and John company. The bar was surprisingly crowded and a boisterous party was keeping Sam busy at the ice bar. Misty made me a hot toddy with 1 oz. of cognac, 1/2 oz. of yellow chartreuse, and 1/2 oz. of cinnamon simple syrup. The tingle of the cinnamon played off the syrupy-sweet chartreuse, and the cognac didn't get in the way like bourbon might have.

Today's weather in the Boston area is in the 50's, making us all feel that spring is imminent. Most of us who've lived here a while know better, so I'm hopeful that I might get one last opportunity to have a hot beverage before the daffodils pop up.

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