Post by Alison Hein
On New Year’s Day, people around the world will be celebrating – with food! Health, prosperity, love and luck are signified by festive, global dishes. In Japan, they will ring in the new year with “toshikoshi soba”, lengthy buckwheat noodles associated with longevity. Germans will be dining on hearty pork and sauerkraut, meant for abundance and luck. And here in our own southern United States, “Hoppin’ John”, a dish made with round black-eyed peas and salt pork, is believed to bring good fortune and a circuitous close to the year.
Perhaps you’re planning a get-together with friends and family on the first day of the year, or maybe just a quiet day of reflection. Even a day of recuperation from the night before…
You may consider a hot toddy – made hot and sweet, then splashed with alcohol and wintry spices – a good old-fashioned cold remedy or insomnia cure. I recently learned it was also a favored libation at New Year’s Day open houses, or “collations”, which were popular in colonial New York. Get this – people hosting open houses took out newspaper ads to let their friends and neighbors know of the upcoming festivities. Guests were greeted with punch, hot toddies, cakes and other snacks. This practice remained popular for many years, until bands of young men started racing from home to home, grabbing food and drink before hieing off to the next party. It makes me laugh to think of trying this in present-day New York. ☺
Hot Toddies are simple to make, but be careful, just a hint of brandy and spice makes them alarmingly addictive. Vary your toddies by using whiskey, rum or bourbon. Make them with water or tea, fiddle with the spices, or float a thin slice of lemon on top. Then serve them at your own “collation”, or simply keep them to yourself and quietly celebrate the first breakfast in bed of the year.
Happy New Year!
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon honey
6 ounces milk
¼ teaspoon mace
1 cinnamon stick
Nutmeg, for garnish (optional)
Add brandy and honey to a small heat-proof glass, such as an Irish coffee mug. Pour milk into small, heavy pot and heat over medium to medium-low heat until warmed. Stir mace into milk. Pour warm milk into glass containing brandy and honey. Stir. Add cinnamon stick, sprinkle with nutmeg if you like, and serve immediately.
Makes one Hot Toddy.