It feels nearly everything has a "day" now, and while many seem a little silly, I’m glad today is National Hot Toddy Day, because it reminds people that there are oodles of admirable boozy warmers. A well-made hot drink takes the edge off perfectly during the long, cold month of January (and it’s certainly been a cold one so far). Warm up with the drinks below; they aren’t all traditional toddies, but they are all delicious.
The Elder’s Torch, No Anchor: As a self-proclaimed stop for “Weird Beer and Rad Food,” you might be surprised at how amazing this Belltown Bar’s cocktail menu is. The Elder’s Torch is a swell example of the ingenuity and care taken here. A rich and layered warmer-upper, it mingles fresh pressed apple juice, ginger, 10-year old Pu-erh fermented tea, star anise, cinnamon and both Old Grandad and Maker’s Mark whiskies. It’s accompanied by an apple chip made with the apple pulp from the fresh pressed juice used, which is combined with maple syrup and IPA beer (all their cocktails have a beer connection).
Lupita’s Hot Chocolate, Casco Antiguo: A hit just for the colder months at this newer spot in Pioneer Square (that you’ll need to ask for, as it’s not on the menu), Lupita’s Mexican hot chocolate is luscious, with hints of spice that lift it above the norm. You can have it straight and non-alcoholic, but I highly suggest adding the house serrano and habanero pepper-infused tequila. That tequila brings a touch of fire—it’s balanced though, not painful—adding another layer of heat to combat lower temps. You can add regular tequila or mezcal also. The drink made a solid accompaniment to Antiguo's ridiculously tasty plantain and black bean empanada, too.
The Hot Spice, Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle, The Lobby Bar: The special at the hotel bar (which sits on the edge of South Lake Union and Belltown) throughout the month of January, this cozy drink will bring your chill level up to toasty in no time. It’s a classically-minded mix, with a base of Korbel brandy—brandy’s comeback, though still picking up steam, is certainly making me happy—cuddled up with Disaronno Originale amaretto, and St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram. The latter brings extra layers of spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper, as does the cinnamon stick garnish.
Tarte Aux Pommes, L'Oursin: Being cold on First Hill isn’t a problem, thanks to the menu of Boissons Chaudes, or Hot Drinks, you’ll discover at L'Oursin, a menu which includes worthy legends like the Vin Chaud (mulled wine, here with pear brandy). I think you can’t go wrong with any of the steamy options; however, if only able to pick one, try the Tarte Aux Pommes. It’s a fabulous French pairing: Calvados, the apple brandy from the Norman region, and Bénédictine, the herbal liqueur with a secret recipe know only to three at one time. Honey, butter, cider and nutmeg round out this warming sipper.