Cocktail of the Day: The Laureate

I’ve been a big fan of toddies, particularly of the brandy, whiskey and rum varieties, which have been especially good not only during this chilly season but during attempts by nasty little bugs to clog my head and chest with gunk and make me feel like crap. When this happens there’s not much that can do better than a hot toddy to make me feel better.

This recipe appears in the February 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, which I hadn’t gotten to yet — my friend Janice sent the page to me as soon as she saw it, though (thanks, Janice!). This one’s a first for me — a tequila toddy, a great idea from Dan Hyatt of Alembic in San Francisco. Agave nectar (which I use in my añejo Old Fashioneds) replaces the honey, and instead of black tea he uses jamaica, the tart red hibsicus flower tea. (That is, of course, pronounced “ha-MY-ka,” and not like the island nation in the Caribbean.) Very inspired, and I can’t wait to make one tonight.

Dan serves these in giant warmed snifters and garnishes with an entire orange wheel studded around its edge with 10 cloves, plus a fresh bay leaf. If you don’t have snifters handy, feel free to cut the orange wheel down to whatever size will fit into your glassware.

The Laureate
(by Dan Hyatt, Alembic Bar, San Francisco)

2 ounces añejo tequila.
2 ounces hot jamaica (red hibiscus flower tea – see below).
1/2 ounce agave nectar.
Orange slice.
Whole cloves.
Bay leaf.

To prepare garnish, stud each orange slice around the rind with 10 cloves. Cut down to size if necessary.

Run your large snifter or whichever glassware you’re using under hot water to warm it. Add garnishes, then tequila and jamaica, then stir in agave nectar and serve.

To make jamaica, simmer 1-1/2 cups water and add 1/3 cup dried red hibiscus flowers. Steep for 2 minutes, then strain and keep warm. Makes enough jamaica for 6 toddies.

Mmmmmmm, sabroso …