Smoke, fire, honey, and dark water – a Beowulf toddy for these cold, dark night.
I’ve had a bunch of jobs in addition to story smithing, including negotiating with pirates in the maritime industry, making leather boots and corsets at a Shakespeare festival, and wielding an antique shaker and a flaming torch in a tiny bar, just big enough for two customers and one bartender.
This recipe for a cocktail fit for an epic comes by special order from that treasure hoard of a bar, the Threesome Tollbooth.
It’s a toddy inspired by some of the elements of the poem: smoke, fire, honey, and dark water, for drinking in your own lair while you make your way through the last month of this year, listening to these readings from an epic.
Beowulf Toddy by N.D. Austin at Threesome Tollbooth
for Maria Dahvana Headley
Prepare your Toddy Mix in advance. This method results in a properly piping hot toddy, as medicine should be, full of flavor and righteously boozy.
Infuse 90ml [3 oz] high-proof Bourbon1 (we like Old Grand-Dad Bottled-In-Bond) with 4g [two teabags] lapsang souchong2 black tea for 20 minutes at room temperature. Don’t over-steep.
45ml [1.5 oz] honey
22ml [.75 oz] raw apple cider vinegar3 (like Bragg)
one dash of Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters4
two pinches of salt5.
Stir that up a bit. This mix will keep indefinitely, until you’re ready to imbibe.
(Just add hot water!) Preheat a mug by filling it with boiling water. While the mug is warming up, re-heat your kettle so that it’s freshly boiling. You want it really scaldingly hot. Toss out the preheat water. Sluice in a few fingers [2.5oz] of yourToddy Mix. Add double that amount [5oz] in boiling water. Garnish with a flamed citrus peel if you’re feeling fiery.
[Makes two servings.]
1Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond is also excellent. Substitute: any barrel-aged booze like Calvados or Rum or Cognac.
2Substitute: any other black tea. You’ll lose the smoke, but it’ll all still work okay.
3We use our own Sfumato amaro vinegar; feel free to substitute any artisanal vinegar you like. Avoid white vinegar.
4You can forego the bitters, or substitute Angostura bitters, though you may experience an extra brief pang of saudade, as if something is missing.
5As a pillar of the community, it’s your lot in life to say that it’s merely a wives’ tale, this salt-over-the-shoulder.
We’re offering a bottled version of this Beowulf Toddy Mix for delivery from our tiny bar in New York City. Join the Threesome Tollbooth mailing list for access to bottle releases.