January 8

Soup to Nuts: Portland bartenders share tips for hot winter drinks

With winter winds blowing, we went to some favorite mixologists for tips on inducing that warm glow.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

People like to joke about needing a hot toddy or wanting to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to their hot chocolate this time of year.

click image to enlarge

Patrick Morang, bar manager at David's in Portland, stirs a Hot Paddy that's made with spice-infused bourbon and orange bitters.

Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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The Hot Paddy at David’s in Portland and other hot, spiked drinks can be sweet or spicy.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


See more hot drinks from Portland restaurants on MaineToday.com.



This winter has been so cold and snowy, I say go for it – you deserve it.

Bartenders get a lot more requests for hot, spiked drinks during the winter months, so I went to them for some do’s and don’ts on making them at home. They also shared a couple of recipes for one of the favorite winter drinks of all time – the hot toddy.

First of all, says Patrick Morang, bar manager at David’s in Monument Square, keep things simple. Add spices and other ingredients a little at a time because “you can always put things in, but you can’t take things out.”

“Then just kind of sip on it and figure out what kind of flavor you’re looking for,” he said. “It’s almost like you’re making a soup for yourself, or a cup of tea. Some people like cream, some people like sugar. Some people like a little more spice, some people like a little less spice.”

When you’re spiking hot chocolate, of course, the choices are a little simpler. Peppermint schnapps is the old school option, but you might also consider Cointreau or white chocolate liqueur.

When it comes to making hot toddies in all their variations, most people still want something with bourbon, rum or some other dark spirit, says Andrew Volk, owner of the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club on Market Street, where the menu of “winter warmers” includes a hot toddy and a hot buttered rum.

“It’s all a matter of taste and preference, but certainly, in the winter months in general, darker spirits just go better – brandies, aged rums, whiskeys, bourbons, scotches,” Volk said. “When it gets cold, they provide that warmth that you don’t necessarily get from lighter spirits. That said, you can still make good warm drinks with gin and clear tequila and vodka.”

If you want to try something with lighter spirits, here’s a spiced cider recipe that was developed for country singer Toby Keith’s Wild Shot Silver Mezcal. It’s so easy that it’s made in a slow cooker:

2 quarts apple cider

¾ cup mezcal

½ cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 teaspoon ground allspice

1½ teaspoons whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange

Put apple cider, brown sugar, allspice, cloves, cinnamon sticks in a slow cooker. Add orange slices. Cook on high for two hours, or low for eight hours. Add mezcal, strain out spices and ladle into mugs. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

THE ORIGIN of the hot toddy is unknown, but there’s some speculation it may have sprung from the Indian toddy, a fermented drink made with the sap of palm trees. In this version, the drink would have made its way to Scotland via the East India Co.

Or it may be an abbreviation of Todian Springs in Edinburgh. Water from the springs was used to make whiskey.

The hot toddy comes in many variations, but the stripped-down Scottish version usually includes liquor, boiling water and sugar or honey. Most people also add some spices and lemon or other form of citrus.

Andrew Volk’s version is as simple as you can get, but forgoes sweetener in favor of a little kick from a fresh ginger syrup that is “ridiculously easy” to make. Just throw equal parts of whole fresh ginger, diced, and hot water into a blender. Blend it until it becomes a liquid, then strain out any remaining solids. (If you make extra, it should be kept in the refrigerator.)

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Additional Photos

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Winter warmers served at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club include, from left, tequila sherry egg nog, hot toddy and hot buttered rum.


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