Every fall, my father lugs home 3 giant bottles of good quality brandy.
He spends the rest of the afternoon chopping ginger, measuring out peppercorns, and stuffing both ingredients into the narrow neck of the bottle. He stores the bottles in a dark cabinet and begins cleaning up the kitchen, under my mother’s watchful eye.
A week later, he brings the bottles back in the kitchen. He strains the brandy from the bottles, removing the remaining ginger and pepper, before decanting it back in their containers. One bottle stays home, one bottle is given to me, and one bottle goes to someone else.
I still don’t know who that mysterious third recipient is.
I enjoy the brnady occasionally in autumn – only a small snifter if I feel a cold coming on, or have bad body aches. Once December arrives, I frequently switch my evening wine for a hot toddy made with brandy, served in my samovars that I lugged home from Russia 4 years ago.
I don’t have a ton of holiday traditions. But enjoying a nightly toddy, in December, is definitely a treasured one.
1.5 ounces brandy
Lemon juice, plus one thick slice of lemon
1 teaspoon of honey
½ teaspoon of minced ginger
Cloves (5-6 per toddy)
While water is boiling, add brandy and lemon juice to your cup. Pierce cloves into the lemon slice.
Add hot water to your cup, until it’s 80% full
Add honey and fresh ginger, and stir well. Add lemon and serve!