Your Football Party Needs This Slow-Cooker Hot Toddy

Skip the boring beer and upgrade to this crowd-pleasing cocktail instead.

Apple-Cinnamon Slow Cooker Hot Toddy

Apple-Cinnamon Slow Cooker Hot Toddy

Try this delicious cocktail from The Bee's Knees Bar Services in Winnipeg, Canada.

Photo by: Bond Freyer / BLF Studios Manitoba

Bond Freyer / BLF Studios Manitoba

To find the perfect drink for any big game party no matter whether you’re rooting for the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles or the halftime show, I turned to a bartender with absolutely no stake in the outcome of the game: a Canadian. “I’m only a Canadian Football League fan,” says Winnipeg mixologist Joel Carleton, before informing me that the CFL was founded well before the National Football League. “I’m actually wearing a Winnipeg Blue Bombers toque right now!”

Thankfully, Carleton has plenty of expertise when it comes to wintertime drinks. A native of Manitoba, he’s been serving up cocktails in central Canada since 2010, and the company he founded, The Bee’s Knees Bar Services, has created craft-cocktail programs for and trained staff at some of the best restaurants and bars in town.

Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Spice Latte for a Crowd

Spice up your autumn gatherings and delight your guests with this simple and delicious PSL recipe.

For a football watch party, Carleton suggests making a big batch of an apple cider-based Hot Toddy. “With hot drinks, we’re focusing on the ability of heat to marry flavors together, but the trick is that you can’t do too much heat — you don’t want it to boil,” he says. Carleton’s secret to keeping a hot drink for a crowd at the ideal temperature? A slow cooker! “When someone wants a drink, you just lift the lid, ladle it in the mug and add whatever booze and garnish,” he explains.

Carleton’s Apple-Cinnamon Slow Cooker Hot Toddy couldn’t be easier and is the perfect way to keep a crowd warm and well-lubricated during your big game celebration. It’s a simple mix of apple cider, sugar and cinnamon that’s happy to sit in a slow cooker or simmering on the stove as long as you need it. It’s also infinitely customizable, as each person can add as much or as little of whatever spirit they like—or even none at all. Carleton recommends an aged spirit with a sweeter profile, like Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey, Jim Beam Bourbon or Zacapa Rum. Calvados, an apple brandy from France, is also a favorite of his in this drink. Just use a light pour: “I find when I make these at home, you can really screw it up by putting too much liquor in,” Carleton says. “It’s not meant to be a strong tipple; it’s a warming, comforting beverage.”

Just as important as keeping the toddy mixture just below boiling (Carleton recommends about 80 degrees C, or 176 degrees F) is squeezing a fresh lemon wedge into each drink just as you make it. “The finish is huge because it adds that fresh, bright acidity,” he says. “It’s a wicked little recipe.”

Game-Changing Party Dips

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Apple-Cinnamon Slow Cooker Hot Toddy

By Joel Carleton | The Bee's Knees Bar Services | Winnipeg, Canada

Apple-Cinnamon Slow Cooker Hot Toddy

Apple-Cinnamon Slow Cooker Hot Toddy

Try this delicious cocktail from The Bee's Knees Bar Services in Winnipeg, Canada.

Photo by: Bond Freyer / BLF Studios Manitoba

Bond Freyer / BLF Studios Manitoba


Makes 12-15 drinks

  • 8 oz. water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 1 gallon fresh-pressed apple cider
  • 5 dashes apple bitters (may substitute Angostura or your favorite cocktail bitters), plus more to taste
  • whiskey, brandy or rum
  • lemon wedges studded with cloves


Two to four hours before the party starts, add all the ingredients except the whiskey, brandy or rum to a slow cooker set to high. (You can also use a large pot on the stove over low heat instead; if so, start the process about an hour before the party.) Stir every 10 minutes for the first half hour or so, until the sugar dissolves completely. Cover and let stand until hot. Turn the slow cooker to low to keep the mixture warm during the party.

To make individual drinks, add 1 oz. or less of whiskey, brandy or rum to a mug other heat-proof vessel and fill with the hot cider mixture (or make a virgin Toddy by leaving out the alcohol entirely). Garnish with a lemon wedge studded with 3 whole cloves — squeeze the wedge into the drink and then drop it in as well.

Next Up

Summery Honeysuckle Mimosas for a Crowd

You know you're going to have more than one, so why not make a whole pitcher of this flowery summer sip?

Hot-Buttered Bourbon Cocktail Recipe

For a comforting and yummy twist on classic hot buttered rum, try this bourbon cocktail to keep you warm all winter. It’s a cozy drink that's perfect for chilly winter nights.

Warm Old-Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Perfect for relaxing on a cold winter night, this drink will warm up the evening with a hot version of the classic cocktail.

Amaretto Sugar Cookie White Cocoa Cocktail Recipe

Try this decadent twist on white hot cocoa during chilly months. The smooth almond flavor of Amaretto liqueur adds warmth, while the whipped cream and cookies are fun garnishes for this grown-up version of hot chocolate.

Blood Orange Hot Toddy Cocktail Recipe

Swap out the lemon in your standard hot toddy with the sweet raspberry citrus flavor of seasonal blood orange for a delicious variation on the classic cocktail.

This Handy Gadget Turns Your Favorite Cocktails Into Frozen Slushies Overnight

Turn your favorite cocktails into a batch of frozen slushies — no blender required.

Halloween Shimmering Cherry Mocktail or Cocktail Recipe

This bewitching concoction combines the deep, rich flavor of cherry with lime and presents a touch of eerie elegance with its shimmering appearance. Perfect for Halloween parties or simply indulging in the supernatural flavor of dark cherry.

How to Make Traditional Wassail in a Slow Cooker

The flavor of this aromatic holiday drink deepens as the ingredients steep in your slow cooker. Place all the ingredients in the pot to warm as you make preparations for your party. When guests arrive, they can help themselves to a cup of Christmas cheer.

Pitcher of Bloody Marys

The best Bloody Mary recipe you'll find.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.