Hot Buttered Rum

December 20, 2012

As the temperature dropped below 12 degrees a couple of days ago (that’s practically sub-zero in Taiwan terms) I continued with hot drinks.

I revisited Hot Buttered Rum. For some reason, I hadn’t liked it much when I tried it last winter. This time, it was fantastic. I made it again the next night, doubled the recipe and almost wiped myself out. It’s deliciously potent.

There isn’t much hard historical knowledge about Hot Buttered Rum. Wondrich says that buttered drinks date back to at least Henry VII, and that it was quite likely in rum-loving New England that the rum version was popularised.

The drink has had its haters. Celebrated 1940s cocktail writer David Embury hated it, and I’ve often read that people just don’t like the butter (or the ‘layer of slick’ that it leaves). In my opinion, it really works. Anyway, it’s not worth getting hung up on. Try it, and if you don’t like it, leave it out and you’ve still got a great drink – Hot Spiced Rum.

There are, of course, many different versions, but once again I tried and loved the one given by veteran New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian – check out the video below.


Hot Buttered Rum

2 oz Jamaican-style rum

3 oz hot water

3 tsp brown (Demerara) sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

a little allspice

very large orange zest

knob of butter

Pre-heat a glass with hot water and discard after a couple of minutes. Dissolve sugar in a little hot water. Add rum and spices. Add hot water and stir. Dissolve a knob of butter on the top.

I really liked this drink. I didn’t have Demerara sugar, but I’m sure the brown sugar made a lot of difference over the white I probably used last time. It was nice and rich. The Christmas spices were great, even though I didn’t have allspice. I used the zest of almost a whole orange, and again, it was killer. The butter? I think it added a bit of body. Hot drinks can be a bit thin sometimes. I certainly didn’t dislike it.

You can double this mixture, but if you’re using 58% overproof rum, like I was, you might not be able to do much afterwards!

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