Cocktail of the Month: Hot Buttered Rum

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Warm up even the coldest winter days with our Cocktail of the Month: Hot Buttered Rum. This traditional drink is simple to prepare in no time with a make ahead batter that can be saved in your freezer for months at a time and be ready when necessary.

savour... warm spirits

Hot Buttered Rum by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

Hot Buttered Rum by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

The History

Like many hot drinks, hot buttered rum likely originated in Europe after the import of rum from the Jamaican colonies began. The British Royal Navy captured Jamaica in 1655 and replaced sailors’ daily rations of brandy with rum. Hot drinks were very popular in Europe for a few reasons. First, water supplies were often potentially dangerous, driving people to add alcohol to many drinks (not just hot ones). Probably more importantly in this case, hot drinks helped take the chill off. Homes were very poorly insulated in the 1700s, and without central heating, any added warmth was welcome.

In the 1939 Gun Club Drink Book by Charles Browne, he suggested that there was no purpose for the inclusion of butter other than to “lubricate your mustache.” It is likely that his opinion had something to do with a version of the drink made without the butter batter. There is little evidence to show when the batter was first made, but the first printed recipe for it appears to be in the 1917 book, The Ideal Bartender.

In Pop Culture

In 1954 we were introduced to a classic holiday movie, White Christmas, with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen. As the tale begins, the quartet are headed off to Vermont. Bob Wallace, played by Crosby, explains how he loves Vermont, the snow, and “hot buttered rum, light on the butter.” This simple line revived the drink and keeps it popular during winter season even now.

Hot Buttered Rum recipe graphic by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

Hot Buttered Rum recipe graphic by Sam Henderson of Today's Nest

Making It Your Own

The magic behind the hot buttered rum is the batter. There are some older recipes that call for dropping butter right on top of the drink, causing a bit of an oil slick on top. The batter rectifies that problem and more evenly distributes the flavor throughout the drink. Fortunately, you can make a batch of batter months in advance and it will likely last throughout the cold months.

Of course, the recipe for the batter varies, but this one is a very good place to start. Some prefer to use ice cream instead of cream and blend it into the batter. Others choose to not include cream of any kind. If you like the deep, rich taste of molasses, consider adding a tablespoon or two to the batter. You can also play with the ratio of spices or add other mulling spices as you like.

Dark rum is usually the weapon of choice for this drink; however, if you prefer a spicier version, you might like to use spiced rum. For a more subtle take on the drink, make it with light rum.

To make the batter:

Simply add all the butter batter ingredients from the recipe graphic to a mixing bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.