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Susan and Ted Axelrod

Susan and Ted are a writer and photographer team who met while working for a magazine — Susan reviewing restaurants and writing food features, Ted photographing them. When Ted left the magazine for a freelance career, they launched their blog, Spoon & Shutter in 2010 as a way to keep doing what they love, together. After many years in Northern New Jersey, they are thrilled to be living in Maine, where Ted's clients occasionally include restaurants and food businesses. When they're not working, cooking, rehabbing their old farmhouse or hanging out with their two cool dogs – Ella and Dixie – they're having a blast exploring this spectacular state. To reach Susan, email saxelrod [at] or follow her on Twitter: @susansaxelrod To reach Ted, email ted [at] or follow him on Twitter @TedAxelRodPhoto .

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Posted: January 16, 2015

Three hot drinks to warm up Maine winter nights

Written by: Susan and Ted Axelrod

When the temperature outside our Yarmouth farmhouse hovers near zero, ice-cold cocktails have little appeal. And if hanging out near the woodstove can’t even thaw my cold hands and feet, I crave a drink to warm me inside and out.

The hot toddy — a healing blend of bourbon or Scotch, lemon, honey and hot water — has been touted as a cold cure for eons. It’s remedial properties are succinctly explained in British wine critic Victoria Moore’s book, How to Drink: “The vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.” I remember my Dad making hot toddies for my Mom when she just couldn’t get warm.

But it’s not exactly a sexy drink. As Carey Jones wrote recently for a piece in Details, “Why it’s time to reclaim the hot toddy:” it’s usually “the drink you make when you’re flu-ridden or, you know, just really old.” That’s changing, as bartenders are taking the basic toddy formula – booze, hot water, a sweet and/or citrus element, plus a garnish — and mixing it up. The Pimm’s Hot Toddy created by former Grill Room bar manager Ben Teitelbaum is a genius example, and although you can no longer get the drink there (Teitelbaum is gone), we’ve adapted his recipe, below.

Also reinvented, the classic hot buttered rum, on the current menu at Five Fifty-Five, made with Wiggly Bridge rum (from York), Maine maple syrup and local butter. It may sound strange to put butter in a drink, but think of an alcoholic version of the best butterscotch candy.

Rounding out our trio: A decadent coffee drink from DiMillo’s, the Casco Bay Foggy Joe. Grab yourself a can of Reddi-Wip and have fun making them at home with our recipe. You’ll be plenty warm, I promise.

All photography by Ted Axelrod

Pimm's Hot Toddy photographed at The Grill Room

Pimm’s Hot Toddy photographed at The Grill Room

Pimm’s Hot Toddy

Makes 1
Recipe adapted from The Grill Room

1 ounce Pimm’s #1
1/2 ounce Maine maple syrup
Dash Angostura bitters
Hot water
Cinnamon stick and clove-studded orange slice for garnish

Pour the Pimm’s and the maple syrup into a heat-proof glass or mug. Add bitters and fill glass with hot water; stir well to combine.

Garnish with a clove-studded orange slice and cinnamon stick.

Hot Buttered Rum photographed at Five Fifty-Five

Hot Buttered Rum photographed at Five Fifty-Five

Hot Buttered Rum

Makes 1
Recipe adapted from Five Fifty-Five

2 ounces Wiggly Bridge rum
1 tablespoon Maine maple syrup
Hot water
Slice of soft butter (about 1 teaspoon)

In an heat-proof glass or mug, combine the rum and maple syrup. Fill the glass with hot water and stir to combine.

Float the slice of butter on top.


Casco Bay Foggy Joe photographed at DiMillo's

Casco Bay Foggy Joe photographed at DiMillo’s

Casco Bay Foggy Joe

Makes 1
Recipe adapted from DiMillo’s

1 ounce Frangelico
1 ounce Baileys Irish Cream
1/2 cup hot chocolate
Hot coffee
Whipped cream
Ground nutmeg (freshly grated is especially good)

In a large heat-proof glass or mug, combine the Frangelico, Baileys, and hot chocolate. Fill with hot coffee, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top for the whipped cream.

Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with ground nutmeg.

Sip slowly!

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