Recipes and Food
Hot Toddy Recipe
How much do you really know about the ingredients in your favorite cocktails? Alcohol brands worldwide are incorporating more sustainable practices into their production, but Belinda Kelly, a bartender and recipe developer, is trying to change the way we think about cocktail culture even more. She is the co-founder of Simple Goodness Sisters, a company that sells cocktail syrups, operates a soda shop, and uses a 10-acre farm at the base of Mt. Rainier in Washington.
The Girl Scout alum is a flavor master at the company, which produces natural syrups and cocktail garnishes such as floral sugar and spiced salts. One of her first ventures, the Happy Camper Cocktail Company, brought the craft cocktail experience all around Puget Sound. Today, she’s expanded the business into a farm dedicated to growing the ingredients needed for her products.
“Sustainability is top of mind to most farmers because the land is our most valuable asset,” Kelly tells CircleAround. She and her team work with the local conservation district to ensure best practices for their farm and protect the area’s rich natural resources. From reusable geotextile fabric to combat weeds to drip tape irrigation that helps conserve water, she’s proud of the ways her farm maintains sustainability.
So what’s life really like as a self-proclaimed cocktail farmer? Moving from behind the bar to gardening and harvesting was a new but welcome challenge for Kelly. “Each season lasts 12 months, and there is no way to speed it up or slow it down,” she tells CircleAround. “It’s been a big learning curve selecting plants and varieties that work best in cocktails.”
“For example, there are lots of varieties of rosemary,” she adds. “It took a few different tests to determine which variety worked best for our area and very niche use. We never use chemical pesticides because our flower farm attracts thousands of local honey bees and other very useful insects.”
Kelly is fortunate to have a cocktail farm in her backyard, but for those who are just getting into the game, the Cocktail Farm Club membership is a great place to start. Each month includes recipes and natural ingredients for creative and classic cocktails at home, using products harvested by Kelly’s team.
“There was a really beautiful craft cocktail scene emerging with a wider-spread interest in whole ingredients and seasonal flavors pre-pandemic,” Kelly notes. “During the shutdowns, however, the focus shifted to comfort, simplicity, and speed for at-home drink making. I think this year will see a few different next step trends, such as stepping up the home bartending game to more intermediate recipes, returning to restaurants for the comfort and community of drinks, and more light or nonalcoholic drinks.”
She’s also optimistic about the future of female leaders in the cocktail industry, which men currently dominate. Restaurant and bar closures during the pandemic were tough for many, but new opportunities have risen as a result. With many places in need of employees, Kelly is helping to ensure there is more gender equality in the cocktail scene.
Right now, there is a willingness to train new staff more than ever before if you want to bartend,” she says. “I welcomed folks who were smart and great with people and taught them how to mix drinks from scratch efficiently.”
She also tells CircleAround that YouTube and social media are great platforms for food and drink influencing and styling jobs, “which can be self-taught, super flexible careers for a highly motivated and creative person.” These efforts can all help bridge the gap and help women rise up in the industry.
If you’re looking to try your hand at home cocktails, Kelly provided CircleAround with a great starter for the holidays: the Hot Toddy.
“The Hot Toddy is a classic cocktail in the cozy hall of fame for a reason, and now we've reinvented it from garden to glass,” she explains. “They're a staple in fall and winter when head colds and frigid temperatures make you crave a warm drink. The base of lemon, hot water, sugar or honey, and whiskey is a great soother of throats and cabin fever.”
“Our Grandma Nancy is well-known for suggesting one before a cough drop,” Kelly adds. “A good old holiday movie and a Hot Toddy just can't be beat.”
Kelly recommends using one of the Simple Goodness Sisters syrups in this easy winter recipe, like apple pie, rhubarb vanilla, or lemon herb.
The Simple Goodness Hot Toddy
Glass: ceramic or heat-safe glass mug
- 4 oz. warm water
- 1 ½ oz. bourbon
- ¾ oz. Simple Goodness Sisters syrup
- 1 tea bag, (optional)
- 1 slice lemon or another citrus
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Heat water to very warm but, not boiling, in a saucepot or kettle. You can simply measure and add all ingredients to a wide-mouth mug.
- Or, make the drink like the pros: Pour the hot water into the larger tin of a set of cocktail-shaking tins. If using a tea bag, add it to infuse the hot water. Next, nestle and float the smaller tin in the hot water. Use this small tin to begin mixing the drink.
- Measure in the bourbon to warm it slowly, raising the temperature without muting flavors or diluting it. Add rhubarb vanilla syrup and a lemon slice to the warming bourbon.
- Remove the floating tin from the tea water. Pour the hot tea water into the bourbon mix, then pour it all in a wide-mouth mug. The wider the top of the mug, the less you will smell the warm alcohol vapors as you drink. After infusing for 3 to 5 minutes, remove the tea bag and add a cinnamon stick.
Interesting combinations to try:
- Rhubarb vanilla + black tea + lemon
- Lemon herb + Meyer lemon (no tea)
- Apple pie + lemon + ginger tea
- Berry sage + orange + chamomile tea
Nonalcoholic: To make it a mocktail, simply omit the spirit for a cozy, hot drink with many possible flavor combinations.