January 11 (Part Two) – Hot Toddy Day

Some days on the national food day calendar are special–they hold the esteem of having two foods set on that date. Sometimes, in the case of Janaury 11, one of them is considered an international food day (Milk Day is “celebrated” around the world) and the other is the “official” food day of the United States. (I’m loving all the air quotes I’m making with my fingers as I type this.) The official food for January 11 is Hot Toddy Day, a spicy, warm alcoholic drink that just screams winter.

Unlike the Bloody Mary on January 1, there is no definitive cocktail recipe for the Hot Toddy, and no one knows when it was exactly created. Wikipedia suggests it may have started with the mulling of spices into fermented palm sap in India, and moved to Western Europe in the mid-18th century. But it’s entirely feasible that any civilization, at any time, could have come up with the ingenious idea of boiling water, adding a liquor of choice, and mixing in honey, cloves and other spices–from Scotland down to Japan, all the ingredients are there to make a perfect Hot Toddy for the season. Just describing the simple yet homey ingredients has me warming up already!

Not only is the Hot Toddy considered a warm pick-me-up on a cold winter day, but it’s also commonly treated as a cure-all for colds. (This of course makes no sense in the face of modern medicine, but when the prescription for recovering from a cold includes alcohol, who are we to judge!)

There are many homey bars in New York City to get a Hot Toddy for a nightcap, and provide you with the comforting atmosphere of an old-town inn or a country hearth to boot. One of them is across the river in Brooklyn, named Char No. 4. The small Southern style bar prides itself on its wide selection of fine bourbons, so you’re sure to find that liquor in their signature Hot Toddy. If you’re settling down for more than just a nightcap, check out their full restaurant menu as well, with such comfort food staples as barbecue pork sandwiches and gigantic bowls of grits.

Char No. 4
196 Smith St (between Warren St & Baltic St), Cobble Hill


Some reviews from Yelp.com:

“We weren’t starving, so we shared a slew of starters (pork nuggets, bacon, crispy cheddar curds, bologna, BLT, etc.), and threw back a few more, including the Char No. 4 take on the hot toddy, made with apple cider and it was perfect to balance out the frigid January weather.”–Quinn S.

“And speaking of menus, I had no idea that there were so many whiskeys and recipes for whiskey available to one place. I had a hot toddy (to help soothe my cold) while spiked eggnog and whiskey straight up were also enjoyed by my meal companions. The hot toddy was awesome, but I don’t recommend eating the apple/spice decoration. It adds to the flavor, it’s just not that tasty.”–Lauren P.