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January 18, 2013

Grazing: A Reimagined Hot Toddy, With Barrel-Aged Apple Brandy

FlaghillFor the last few days, my throat has felt like a slow-burning coal fire. I don't think I'm alone; hacks and sniffles and woeful looks are so plentiful that it's a miracle anything is getting done.

Trying to drink a bug away can work (almost magically), or it can make the ailment much, much worse. It depends on quality as much as quantity. The release of a new batch of barrel-aged apple brandy from New Hampshire's Flag Hill Distillery seemed an ample excuse for me to test out my theory.

Flag Hill, in Lee, produces wines from cold-climate grapes as well as spirits made from local fruits and grains — vodka, gin, grappa, white whiskey and a range of fruit liqueurs among them.

The company also distills apple cider from Concord's Apple Hill Farm into its own form of Calvados. This one is named for a New Hampshire physician, judge and signer of the Constitution, and his visage graces the bottle.

Josiah Bartlett ages for four years in oak barrels, and, like the guy from which it was named, it's elegant and restrained with waves of apple, pear, vanilla, caramel and maybe even a hint of cardamom that glide across the back of the tongue. Despite all the toastiness, it seems kind of feminine, somehow.

And the drink is as smooth as silk in a hot toddy, for which I usually prefer orange to lemon and only the slightest hint of honey. If this doesn't chase the bug away, at least it numbs the pain.

Josiah Bartlett Hot Toddy

3 ounces hot water
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 ounces apple brandy
Orange wedge, and slice for garnish
Cloves, optional 

In a glass mug, pour water over a spoonful of honey and stir to dissolve. Add brandy and squeeze in the juices from the orange wedge, then garnish with orange slice. Add cloves if desired. Sip slowly.

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