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huh uh - honey
By now even a casual observer of this column will have noted that I have an affection for hot cocktails. I love an icy martini as much as the next guy, but there are a good 3 to 4 months in D.C. when the temp in the glass isn’t far from the temp out the window and I often choose, in these moments, to make my drink a foil to the weather. Some of you may be checking my math and wondering if, by extension, I make room temperature drinks on 60- to 70-degree Spring and Fall days, and the answer is yes, it’s called red wine, and damn, if it isn’t delicious sometimes. Those are the days where it ain’t broke and you don’t fix it.

But right now, the nights are cold, half the city has a low-grade fever from stress, disappointment, or climate, and we could all use a cozy pick-me-up. We’re gonna stick with the honey theme and do what Daddy did when we were little and sore-throated: Pour some hot water over honey and hooch, maybe throw in a piece of lemon rind, and call it medicine. Maybe that was just my dad.

Unlike Dad, though, we are going to improve our medicine just a hair by adding some extra goodness, á la Mary Poppins, I guess. Still nicely paternal and cozy but, you know, more pleasant and interesting than the one dimensional sweet-and-burn of honey and Kessler’s American Blended (which we only kept for colds and when-Grandpa-visits and is only two or three notches above filtered wolf piss). Man, am I getting off track — you see how effective hot drinks can be for nostalgia?

Use 1 oz of whatever spirit you would normally grab for a toddy: bourbon, rye, scotch, etc. But to make our drink special we are going to split the base by filling out the second ounce with good Jamaican rum. Anything a bit rich and kind of funky will do — Smith & Cross, Wray & Nephew Overproof, J Wray Gold (formerly Appleton Special). Add your taste of good honey (I use a heavy spoonful); a twist of citrus if that’s your jam; a scrape of nutmeg if that’s your jam; a cinnamon stick if you are with a lady; or all three if you are wearing a fluffy sweater and slippies. Here it is clearer:

1oz Spirit
1oz Jamaican Rum
4 oz Water, just off boil
1 spoonful Honey

Add the honey first, dissolve it by pouring on a couple ounces of boiling water, add your spirits, then top up with boiling water. This will nicely fit into a china tea-cup, which are designed to hold six ounces. Normal coffee mugs hold 8 oz. Garnish to preference.

Instead of just “Toddy,” let’s call this formula a Hot Pop (as in, Bourbon Hot Pop) and you can decide for yourself whether that references the technicolor oomph of good Jamaican rum, the melodic soothings of Miss Mary, or the well-meaning concoctions of dear old Dad. Regardless, it’s a fine diversion on a cold night and interesting enough to warrant seconds. Or thirds. I mean, it takes a few tries to really dial in that recipe, right?

Drink Well.
- Chris

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