Heartichoke Friday: Coconut Chai Hot Toddy with Vanilla-Infused Whiskey

Gosh, just this time last week, I was gleeful about autumn’s arrival, and then I remembered what that actually means. It’s suddenly wet again in Portland, a way of life that’s inevitable until late Spring, and apparently, something I’m still in denial about after a decade of raindrops. How do I pretend it’s not all soaked hoodies and ducking into coffeeshops while you wait for an off-the-grid bus in yet another pair of cracked cowgirl rain boots? Toughen up, here are two words that help, every year: hot toddy. And this time, make that a warm & creamy (if you choose) coconut chai, black tea-steeped toddy, with touches of sweetness, cinnamon and vanilla-infused whiskey.

Who needs to stop into the mist when you have a hot toddy and a great read?

I couldn’t complete a hot toddy without lemon.

I can’t encourage people enough to infuse their own liquor – especially if you’re on a budget and/or looking to impress (especially yourself). One mere vanilla bean can take your meager bottle of whiskey to mid-shelf status – and that’s within 24 hours – which will only improve from there. I also can’t envision a hot toddy without some type of citrus element, and that coconut chai just calls for a bit of creamy-ness, so I included those options below. Of course, assemble as you wish – and enjoy.

Coconut Chai Hot Toddy with Vanilla-Infused Whiskey

Serves 1, increase accordingly


  • 2 1/2 oz hot coconut chai tea – Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is a favorite in my household
  • 1 – 1 1/2 oz vanilla infused whiskey (use less for a milder drink)*
  • 1/8 oz liquid sweetener, such as dark agave or maple syrup
  • splash of vanilla soy milk or coconut creamer (keep stirring)
  • pinch of cinnamon


  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • fresh lemon

what to do

Steep the tea as directed, and set aside (and use while warm). Pour the sweetener, cinnamon and whiskey into your glass of choices. Slowly add in the hot tea, and stir well. Add soy milk or creamer, if desired, and stir vigorously. Garnish as desired, and give a final stir with a cinnamon stick, if using. Sip and enjoy your book.

*You could easily use straight up whiskey or bourbon (or brandy, or even dark rum), plus a dash of vanilla  or any other extract.
Ahhhhhh, toddy.

Future toddy experiments are set to include pumpkin, peanut butter, super spicy and peachy.


  1. I might just make a whiskey-less version of this soon and go to town snuggling with my dog and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’

    Is Zhena’s Gypsy Tea available at Whole Foods?

  2. I usually make my own vanilla extract with whiskey. So I guess I have on hand what your recipe calls for! I was also looking forward to fall and now I am on my second cold in a row…

    1. Boo to colds! I’m just getting over mine. If you use homemade vanilla extract whiskey for this, because of the amount of vanilla beans in it, I would just take it easy on the whiskey portion unless you truly love vanilla! ❤

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