Allspice dram adds extra depth to this classic recipe
Looking to jump start the holiday cheer? Look no further than the Hot Buttered Rum, a drink that probably fortified US colonists during their war for independence (more history in the Notes).
Our version is a mix of dark rum, spicy allspice dram, sugar, boiling water – and butter, of course. Mix and serve in a heatproof mug.
It’s an elixir that will warm your heart (and maybe even redden your nose). What could be more cheery than that?
Recipe: The Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
The original version of hot buttered rum was probably made by adding dark rum, water, and sugar to a sturdy mug (spices were optional). Then the mixologist would heat a poker in the fireplace and, once it was red hot, plunge the poker into the mug. When the mixture was hot and steaming, they’d add a knob of butter. Voilà! Hot Buttered Rum.
Exciting, no doubt, but a bit more trouble than we prefer. So we just heat water on the stove, then add it to the other ingredients in a heatproof mug (as we would do with a Hot Toddy).
This recipe takes 5 or so minutes to make and serves 1.
- 2 ounces dark rum (see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or more to taste; may substitute simple syrup)
- ¼ teaspoon allspice dram (aka pimento dram; see Notes for substitutes)
- 1 to 3 teaspoons butter (to taste; see Notes)
- ~4 ounces hot water
- garnish of a nutmeg sprinkle and/or a cinnamon stick (very optional)
- Warm a heatproof mug by rinsing it out with hot tap water. Add the rum, brown sugar, allspice dram, and butter to the mug.
- Add hot water to the mug (we boil the water in a kettle). Stir to mix all the ingredients and melt the butter.
- Garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- Our recipe makes a single serving of Hot Buttered Rum. There are also “batter” versions, which can serve a crowd. To make this version, cream butter with sugar and spices to produce a "batter" (really a compound butter). Then portion the batter into individual servings. This version might be handy if you’re serving a gaggle of friends. Otherwise, you’re likely to see this method used only in a bar or other commercial establishment.
- What rum to use in this drink? A hearty-flavored dark rum works best. We often use Myers’s, a Jamaican dark rum. We also like smoky demerara rum from Guyana. The 8-year-old version of El Dorado demerara rum works well in cocktails (and isn’t too expensive).
- Allspice dram (which includes a mix of several spices) adds great flavor to this drink. The brand we see (and use) most often is St. Elizabeth. But ask your liquor store for a recommendation if in doubt.
- Don’t have allspice dram on hand? You can substitute a few pinches each of allspice, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Or you could skip the spices entirely (though we like the added flavor).
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial and are not compensated for mentioning brand names. We suggest only what we like and buy with our own money.
- The butter in this drink adds a smooth, luxurious mouth feel. We suggest using anywhere from 1 to 3 teaspoons – depending on how much smoothness and mouth feel you prefer.
- Mixologists have been adding butter to drinks for centuries. In 16th century England, butter was sometimes added to beer or ale for medicinal purposes (it was a remedy for hoarseness).
- Buttered rum may have originated in the Americas. Rum became popular in the American colonies during the 18th century (it was produced in the Caribbean, and eventually in the US, so it was handy).
- The most common name for this drink is Hot Buttered Rum. We added “cocktail” to indicate that this is a mixed drink. (BTW, a mixture of hot water, sugar, and butter makes a pretty good drink even without the rum, particularly if you add cinnamon to it).
- “Cocktail” originally referred to a specific type of mixed drink (bitters, for example, were a necessity). Over time, the meaning changed. Today, a cocktail is basically any kind of mixed drink. And by “mixed” we mean alcohol combined with other ingredients – no cocktail shaker necessary.
- Most cocktails include a spirit, although there are exceptions (like beer cocktails). And let’s not even contemplate shrimp cocktail.
- Fun fact: January 17th is National Hot Buttered Rum Day in the US (conveniently, it’s also National Bootleggers Day). We don’t know who comes up with these national food days, but we’re happy to promote them. And with this recipe, you’ll be prepared for the celebratory event.
“Yum, rum,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Makes me feel like a true child of the Americas.”
“Indeed,” I said. “The colonials liked rum – and lots of it. By around 1770, Americans were consuming 4.2 gallons of it per person every year. Which was enough for every adult male to have at least five shots a day.”
“That’s what I call the pursuit of happiness,” said Mrs K R.
“Yeah, all that rum must have warmed them up, even without adding hot water,” I said.
“As the Sons of Liberty might have said when partying at Boston Harbor, ‘Who needs tea?’” said Mrs K R.
“Of course, they had to be careful with those hot pokers,” I said.
“Yup, easy to catch your wig on fire,” said Mrs K R. “Or singe your britches.”
Those were the times that tried men’s souls. Not to mention their livers.
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