This Rum Hot Toddy is a comforting and delicious cocktail made with dark rum, lemon, honey and hot water. The addition of a cinnamon stick and star anise garnish brings some wonderful cozy winter spice flavors. Perfect for a staying warm when it's cold outside!
This drink is perfect for the fall or winter months, and especially for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The dark rum in this Hot Toddy recipe, which replaces whiskey in the classic Hot Toddy, brings a warm molasses flavor. Whiskey, in comparison, has more of an oaky flavor.
This drink only has 4 ingredients, so each one will definitely impact the drink's flavor. The rum and honey, especially, have a lot of variants depending on which type you get.
- Dark Rum - there are many varieties of dark rum, so use what you enjoy drinking in other cocktails. The rum pictured, Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum, is stronger than other rums in both alcohol content and molasses flavor.
- Honey - if you want the rum to be the main flavor component, choose a relatively mild flavor of honey, like clover honey. If you want the honey to come out a bit more, you can pick something like buckwheat honey, which has a stronger flavor.
- Lemon Juice - preferably freshly squeezed.
- Water - preferably filtered or bottled for the best taste.
- Garnishes (optional, but recommended)
- Lemon Slice - you can use either a slice of a fresh lemon, or a dehydrated lemon slice.
- Whole Cinnamon Stick
- Whole Star Anise
Here are some substitution ideas if you don't have one of the ingredients.
- Dark Rum - you can also make this drink with whiskey, Cognac, apple brandy, or even reposado or añejo tequila. Any aged spirit will work great with the honey and lemon flavors.
- Honey - a great substitute for honey would be Cinnamon Syrup, which is a simple syrup with cinnamon flavor. Maple syrup also makes a great substitute and has a milder flavor.
- Lemon - if you don't have lemon juice, orange juice would work well. It's not as tart as lemon juice, so you won't need as much of the honey (just use about ¼ ounce, which is equal to 1 Tablespoon, of the honey).
Here are some ways to vary this recipe into something a little bit different.
- Keto Friendly Rum Hot Toddy - for a low sugar option, instead of honey, use a sugar free simple syrup. I make my own keto friendly syrup using allulose (see my blog post about How to Make Simple Syrup for more details on how to make it at home).
- Mulled Hot Toddy - to add a little more baking spice flavor to this drink, you can get a packet of mulling spices and infuse them into the rum. Just add them to a glass container, like a mason jar, and pour in enough rum to cover them. Let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight, and then strain out the spices and bottle the resulting spiced rum. This is a great way to make spiced rum and have it on hand for the holiday season!
- Non-alcoholic Hot Toddy - follow the recipe as written, but substitute in non-alcoholic rum for the dark rum. One good option is Lyre's Dark Cane Non-Alcoholic Spirit.
The most important piece of equipment you'll need to have is a jigger or small measuring cup. This will ensure you're getting the same ratio of ingredients each time you make the drink.
To heat the water, you'll need either an electric kettle, a stovetop kettle or saucepan, or a microwaveable mug or measuring cup.
If you're using fresh citrus, you'll need a knife and cutting board along with a citrus juicer.
Finally, you'll need serving glasses or mugs. I've used double walled glass coffee mugs, which help to keep in the heat longer, but you can use any mug that you like.
Start out by heating up your water. I like to do this in an electric kettle, but any standard kettle or saucepan will do. You can even heat it in the microwave, but be sure to heat the water by itself in the microwave (before mixing it with the rum).
While it's heating, get your garnishes prepared and ready to go. Slice your lemon (unless you are using a dehydrated lemon slice) and gather your cinnamon stick and star anise.
Next, add the rum and honey into your serving mug.
Add in the lemon juice. Then, once the water is ready to go, add the hot water into the serving mug.
Use your cinnamon stick (or a spoon) to stir the liquid all together. The honey should fully dissolve in the hot liquid.
Leave the cinnamon stick in the mug, and add in your lemon slice.
Add in the star anise as the finishing touch, and serve immediately.
Hint: For the best results, always heat the water separately from the other ingredients. You could technically heat them all together, but you'll lose some of the alcohol from the rum if you heat it too high.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Hot Toddy is a classic cocktail made with whiskey, honey, lemon and hot water. Meant to help combat sore throats and the common cold, it's often just enjoyed for the taste and cozy feeling of a warm cocktail. The rum in this recipe gives the final drink a little sweeter taste and a molasses flavor instead of the oak flavor of most whiskey.
Alcohol begins to evaporate at 172°F (78°C). For this recipe, it's best to heat the water until it simmers, but don't go all the way to boiling.
Top Tip - Crock Pot Hot Toddies
It's easy to make a big batch of Hot Toddies for guests. Rather than mixing each one individually, you can actually make this in a crock pot slow cooker for a punch-style Hot Toddy. Just multiply the amounts of all the ingredients you'll need (you can use my handy calculator in the recipe below).
Add the rum, honey and lemon juice to the pot while the water heats, add in the hot water and mix it together. Throw in some cinnamon sticks, star anise and lemon slices, and set the crock pot to the keep warm setting. You can set out some coffee mugs and a ladle for your guests to serve themselves!
Rum Hot Toddy
- Electric kettle or saucepan to heat water
- Knife and cutting board (for the lemon)
- Citrus juicer (if using fresh lemon juice)
- 4 to 6 ounces water
- 1½ ounce dark rum
- ½ ounce lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
- ½ ounce honey
Garnish (optional but recommended)
- 1 fresh lemon slice
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 whole star anise
- Heat the water in an electric kettle (or regular stovetop kettle or saucepan) until it starts to bubble. (See Notes)
- Meanwhile, gather your garnishes (lemon slice, cinnamon stick and star anise) and have them ready to go.
- Add the dark rum, lemon juice and honey to your serving mug.
- When the water boils, pour it into your serving mug.
- Use the cinnamon stick or a spoon to stir the cocktail. The honey should all dissolve after the hot water is added.
- Add all of the garnishes, and serve.
- You don't need to bring the water all the way to boiling for this cocktail, just until it starts to steam or simmer. Alcohol starts to evaporate at 172°F (78°C), so if you have the water much hotter than that, it's going to be too hot for the rum to handle! You can use a kitchen thermometer if you want to be exact.