Toddy: A beverage made from distilled spirits (especially whiskey), with hot water, sugar, and (usually) lemon juice. Also spelled tottie and totty.
Toddy is one of the many common English words imported from Hindi during the centuries of British trade and, ultimately, rule in the subcontinent. (Other imports from Hindi include bungalow, chutney, dinghy, jungle, khaki, loot, pajamas[or pyjamas], mogul, shampoo, and verandah.) Toddy was originally tari, pronounced with a “cerebralized” r that resembles d. According to the OED, toddy originally referred to
[t]he sap obtained from the incised spathes of various species of palm, esp. Caryota urens, the wild date, the coco-nut, and the palmyra, used as a beverage in tropical countries; also, the intoxicating liquor produced by its fermentation.
It was borrowed into English in the early 17th century; by the early 18th century it had taken on its contemporary hot-whiskey meaning. The earliest citation in the OED is from Robert Burns in 1786:
The lads an’ lasses, blythely bent
To mind baith saul an’ body,
Sit round the table, weel content,
An’ steer about the toddy.
Hot toddies are sometimes prescribed for the sore throats and congestion that accompany colds, but they’re also seen on cocktail menus in the winter months. Berkeleyside cocktail reviewer Risa Nye, aka Ms. Barstool, recently sampled five toddies served at Bay Area restaurants, including a Haitian toddy made with dark rum and served in a teacup; and a Fanny Tellier toddy that’s named after Picasso’s Girl with a Mandolin and made from apple brandy and bitters.
Toddy isn’t the only Indian beverage word that’s frequently encountered during the winter holidays. Punch is believed to derive from Hindi panch, meaning “five,” a reference to the “five nectars” of the gods that went into it: milk, curd, butter (or ghee), honey, and sugar (or molasses). When punch first appeared in written English, in 1600, it was spelled paunche and referred to a mixture of alcoholic and nonalcoholic ingredients. This punch is unrelated to the verb to punch, which came into English from Old French ponchonner in the late 14th century.