Many are the hip-hop artists and DJs who have "rap-sodized" about their favorite beverages: Snoop Dogg's love of "Gin and Juice" is famous, and Cypress Hill sings a beautiful ode to "Tequila Sunrise." But my favorite song bearing the name of a cocktail has to be from Usher, featuring Jay Z. In it the singer, a hopeless womanizer, projects the cold — nay, freezing — indifference he feels to love outward on the world, like a German Expressionist. Poor thing, he needs a drink to warm him up! "We freakin', this ain't cheatin' as long as we tell nobody," Usher chants. "Tell your girls you leavin'; I'll meet you in the lobby / I'm so cold ..." (Wait for it...) "Yeah, gimme that hot toddy."
Hot toddies (or totties), winter's most curative drinks, might be the first, or in many cases only, option people list when asked for heated libations. They can be served with brandy or tequila, but whiskey is their traditional and best-suited poison. Additions can and do include honey, oranges, lemons, cinnamon, cherries, cloves, cardamom, and the list goes on. You can steep yours with tea, or even sub piping-hot cider for the water altogether.
Jan. 11 is National Hot Toddy Day, and you probably already have all the ingredients you need to celebrate. It's the kind of drink where you can check your pantry first and work with what you have. All you really need to make it a toddy is liquor diluted in hot water and served with spices. And yes, that can be palliative for a sore throat.
Just so we're clear, if you're actually feeling under the weather, you should probably avoid alcohol altogether and drink lots of water or fruit juice. Adding lemon and honey to hot water can help with a cough and, once you're on the mend, that same mixture plus some bourbon or Scotch is enough to make Usher croon.