Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Experimental Mexican Hot Toddy (version 1)

In Scotland we do this thing when the weather gets cold and you discover that you have a sore throat.

We mix whisky, honey, hot water, a dash of lemon juice, and some warming spices and sip it slowly until we completely forget that we were miserable in the first place.

This is called a "hot toddy", and I believe it has caught on in other countries.

A while ago it occurred to me you could probably make a Mexican version by substituting the "Scottish" ingredients for corresponding Mexican ones.

But wait: doesn't Mexico have its own certain already?

Mexico certainly does have its fair share of hot drinks, both with and without alcohol. However, Mexico has a very different climate from Scotland. Even in the dead of winter you're not going to be as desperate to curl up under a blanket with what is essentially a sweetened hot whisky and hide from the freezing rain and the darkness that sets in at 4pm.

So this is purely an experiment; I will doubtless have to refine it and perfect it some more before I call it a success. But here's what I've got so far.

The starting point is a one-to-one substitution of the original ingredients with Mexican ones. I also added some chile, because why not?


Don Agustín añejo almost tastes like whisky anyway
1 tsp agave nectar (instead of honey)
1 shot of tequila, preferably añejo (instead of whisky)
3 allspice berries (taking a cue from the Yucatán) 
Lime juice (instead of lemon juice)
A dash of tajín or a couple piquín chiles
Hot water

Basically, put everything in a mug and give it a stir.

If you're using tajín, sprinkle it on top just before drinking; if you're using the dried chiles, they'll need to be in the mug at the start so they can steep and release their flavour (and heat).


My initial worry was the lime juice: would it clash with the agave and the allspice?

It didn't. In fact, it was such a good addition I used more than I originally intended (about half a lime for one serving).

My second concern was the chile. I was going to make it optional. Turns out it's not optional. It really makes this drink.

You might think it's strange putting chile in a drink that's meant to soothe a sore throat, but as always, you add the chile to taste. If you don't overdo it, you'll get a pleasant tingle in your mouth that won't actually reach your throat.

Also, if you have a sore throat, chances are you have other symptoms of a cold as well. Chiles are full of vitamins and antioxidants to help you get well, and are the best decongestant ever.

What ended up not bringing much to the party was the allspice. I had high hopes for this, but it was undetectable on the palate. This drink was all lime, tequila, and chile.

In that respect, it was somewhat like a warm margarita, which led me to question whether it needs the agave nectar either. But I have decided to keep it in for now because it adds texture as well as flavour, giving the drink a somewhat more silky mouthfeel.

Next steps: try steeping the allspice berries to boost their flavour before I cut them out completely. And maybe up the chile heat as well.