As election day comes to America, there is one thing almost every American can agree upon, “thank God it’s OVER!”. And regardless of who wins, we think everyone deserves a good, stiff drink (or a cupcake, check back shortly). And, not too long ago, many a voter could be swayed by the promise of a free sip (or two, or three, or four) of booze. Back then, we assume the drink might have been a toddy. A simple combination of spirits, hot water, sugar and spices, a toddy is a perfect warming sip on a cold November day. (It’s eighty degrees in California, but bear with us).
The Tammany Jack is our version of a fall-themed toddy. It combines rye whiskey (or bourbon), Applejack, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, bitters and hot water (a dash of allspice liqueur is a good bonus). Garnished with a cinnamon stick, a slice of lemon and freshly grated nutmeg, the Tammany Jack not only tastes good, but smells like a blast of holiday spice. A strong, warm and comforting sip. And if you don’t have Applejack or rye, don’t despair. You can make a toddy of almost any spirit or sweetener. Both Liquid Culture Project (Scotch) and Measure & Stir (apricot-infused Bourbon) have good recipes, but any whiskey, brandy or dark rum can make for an excellent toddy. And every bar has sugar, spices and hot water. Toddies are worth a try.
We named our toddy after the famous 19th and early 20th century New York political machine “Tammany Hall”. Tammany has a very mixed reputation, as they were known for corruption, but also representing early immigrant groups. Tammany was also known for getting out the vote, and liquor (along with cash and favors), was certainly a key electoral tool (see the period political cartoon below). We named the rest of the cocktail after the Laird’s applejack we use in recipe. Applejack comes from New Jersey and was a popular local spirit in 19th century New York. Back then dozen of local distillers made Applejack, but these days Laird’s is one of the few options. Happily, Laird’s Bonded Applejack is a high-quality apple brandy that is a worthy addition to any bar. (Yes, we are on a bit of a rye and Applejack jag, sorry).
Finally, the recipe calls for cinnamon syrup. You can buy cinnamon syrup at many liquor stores or supermarkets, but it is very easy to make at home. Simply make a simple syrup with white, or preferably turbinado or Demerara sugar (recipe here). Then add a few cinnamon sticks to the syrup once you take it off the heat and let the cinnamon steep for about half an hour.Take out the cinnamon sticks and you have cinnamon syrup. You can use the cinnamon syrup for a twist on an old-fashioned, or in tiki drinks. But since it’s cold and the election is almost over, why not try it in a toddy like the Tammany Jack?
The Tammany Jack:
- 1 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse bonded) or bourbon
- 1 oz. Applejack (Laird’s bonded)
- 3/4 oz. cinnamon syrup
- 3 oz. very hot water
- 3-4 drops lemon juice
- 3 dashes bitters (Bittermens Tiki and/or Angostura)
- 2 dashes allspice liqueur (optional)
- Lemon wheel, for garnish
- Cinnamon stick, for garnish (optional)
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Warm a mug with hot water for 30 seconds. Pour out that water then add the rye, Applejack, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, bitters, allspice liqueur (if using) and 3 oz of hot water. Stir and then garnish with the lemon wheel, cinnamon stick and a grating of nutmeg. Serve.
- Weekly Cocktail #35: The Diamondback (putneyfarm.com)
- Warm Things Up with a Hot Toddy! (aarp.org)
- Turkish Bath: Apricot Bourbon, Cumin, Lemon, Rosewater (measureandstir.com)
- Cocktail DIY: Stocking Your Bar At Home (putneyfarm.com)
- Weekly Cocktail #33: The Rochelle-Normande (putneyfarm.com)
- The Jack Rose Cocktail (theliquidcultureproject.com)