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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I love hot buttered rum! It's so good for a cold and snowy evening!
Hi Amy, such a cheery drink, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
We have a similar hot drink in Germany called Grog ( no butter, no spices). I have to try your version , it’s perfect for a cold winter evening. John, I told a bartender here in Hawaii about your blog and all of your wonderful cocktails.
Hi Gerlinde, aw, thanks for spreading the word about the blog! And you gotta try this -- the butter adds such a delightful mouth feel. Thanks for the comment.
TheHub has been fighting a cold (not covid as per the test results) and this might just help him turn the corner. I have everything on hand to make this tonight!
What a perfect drink to warm you up on a cold & rainy day.
Hi Anne, this should definitely make him feel better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, so nice at this time of the year, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
you're speaking my language with the dark rum drink! I would love this on a cold winter day.
Rum and the colonies unfortunately also elicits memories of the slave trade. All tightly connected: ships, labor, markets....
My own memory of butter rum is as a flavor of Lifesavers candy. It was delicious.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Ashley, dark rum is terrific, isn't it? And perfect in this drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, yeah, that was a real stain on US (and English, and French, and Dutch, and Spanish) history. Thanks for the comment.
Looks nice 😁! This is new to me 😃. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Shirley, it's good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm lighting the fire now, just so I can enjoy this drink. I'll probably skip the poker part though!
Hi Abbe, yeah, the poker part sounds a bit too old school for us. :-) Thanks for the comment.
How nice would be holding that drink during this cloudy rainy cold Dec. day!
Hi Angie, this is such a soothing drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Mmm I haven't had buttered rum for a while. I'll need to make it (Maybe with the addition of honey instead of sugar.) Cozy and delicious!
First time I’ve had Hot Buttered Rum was in Nova Scotia at historic Fortress of Louisbourg, it was delicious! Haven’t had it since. Thanks for reminding me how good it was!
Hi Ben, honey would be nice! Good choice. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eva, it's definitely getting to be the season for hot drinks. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Izaa, it's really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks very different! Looks really very unique!
Hi B&S, it's good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
It's been ages since I've had a hot toddy and I love them. thanks for your recipe because I forgot how to make them. Might have to make one of these tonight for my sleeping "pill".
Hi MJ, these are very relaxing. Very. :-) Thanks for the comment.
what a beautiful drink! This is perfect for cold season.
Hi Holly, definitely a nice cold weather drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
delicious i'm sure but probably a bit too much for a hot wet brisbane summer :-) La Nina is here already!!
Hi Sherry, I've been in Brisbane in the summer, so I agree this isn't really the drink for you for this time of the year. Save this one for next June. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It's been a long time since I have had hot buttered rum. It's such a warm and cozy drink
I haven't had a hot buttered rum in years, and never with dram. What a great idea!
Hi Pat and Dahn, it had been a long time since we had one, too! Such a nice drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, the allspice dram adds a nice hit of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I never heard of putting butter into a cocktail but it sounds delicious! After drinking all that rum, I'm surprised the Sons of Liberty were able to defeat the Brits!
Excellent images as always and a right proper cocktail to warm one up on the cold snowy days we've been having. I must admit though, rum and me don't get along (a bad youthful experience with a bottle of 151). I wonder what hot buttered gin would taste. I'm game for that one...
Hi Fran, they drank a LOT in those days -- typically beer (weak, but still) for breakfast. Their "excuse" was bad water quality, so alcohol was safer to drink. Sure. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ron, 151 is great as a float on a drink, but drinking it? Ugh. Hot buttered gin sounds interesting. In England they used to make hot gin punches, and butter frankly doesn't sound all that out of place for that sort of mixture. Let me know how it turns out! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am definitely trying this tonight! I think I'll swap out honey for the brown sugar and dive right in. Thanks John, what a timely recipe!
Hi Judy, we need to try this with honey - we often make a regular hot toddy that way, and this is basically that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm not a fan of dark rum and never have been, but I see this drink as something I would definitely love to try once. It's perfect to warm one up on the cold rainy days we've been having.
Hi Balvinder, you might want to use a little less rum or a little more water in this drink since you're not a fan of dark rum. We haven't tried this with an amber rum, but that might work too. Thanks for the comment.
Suddenly craving a hot buttered rum in the worst way! It is chilly today and getting ready to watch the games. Need a tailgating starter to warm us up.
Hi Bobbi, this would be a terrific tailgate drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Make mine 3 teaspoons smooth. GREG
Hi Greg, smooth is as smooth does. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is exactly what I want to snuggle up with while watching "Love, Actually'' for the umpteenth time. A perfect sip to warm you through and through.
Hi Carolyn, these are wonderfully relaxing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Perfetto per questa fredda stagione, lo proverò, grazie!!!
I've never had hot buttered rum cocktail, but I am a fan of rum and this sounds worth making and trying. Thanks
Hi Speedy, definitely nice when the weather is cold! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judee, it's a fun drink -- bet you'll like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is the first time (other than Markipedia) that anyone has described the true method for mulling! That red-hot poker makes all the difference. Love this, John, and I am ready to have one to get me into the holiday spirit!
Hi David, in the distant past we've actually mulled a drink or three. Lots of fun! And really a bit of a bother, alas. So these days we use a less dramatic method. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Butter on a cocktail, this is something new to me. Very interesting, I bet they would taste good, reminds me of bulletproof coffee
Hi Raymund, the butter sounds odd, but its flavor (and texture) really works! Thanks for the comment.
Funnily enough I've never actually made or even had hot buttered rum. I'll have to remedy that this year. It sounds so comforting and lord knows we all need some comfort these days... Have a wonderful holiday, John!
Hi Frank, this is really worth trying -- it's good stuff. And we definitely need comfort! Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!
It's not Christmas (or winter, even!) without hot buttered rum!
Hi Inger, such a nice drink, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hey, by the way, have you ever had a Tom and Jerry? There's a pub in the Loop that serves them at Christmas time. To me, they taste like a hot buttered rum with a heavy dose of a very soft, very sweet meringue on top. At the pub, they say it's a kind of egg nog, but I'm not buying it. What I am buying, though, are the Tom and Jerrys, one after the other. They're fantastic. If you never heard of it, I thought I'd bring it to your attention.
Hi Jeff, I do know the Tom and Jerry! Been thinking about putting it on the blog, but that's one drink where it's better when you make up a big batch (in that way, it's exactly like eggnog; and it does contain eggs, so I suppose it's a bit like eggnog). Thanks for thinking of us -- and you've put me in the mood to make a batch. :-)
There are few things better during the holidays than a comforting, warm cocktail. Cheers!
Hi Laura, cheers! And thanks for the comment. :-)
I hope you do, because I'd eagerly anticipate your recipe! At the bar (Miller's Pub) where I had them, they also said it was like eggnog. But to me, it seemed ... I don't know ... pretty distinct from it, even if I could see the connection.
Hi Jeff, you're really whetting my appetite for one of these! Or a few. :-)
It's going to be frigid here on Friday---probably for you, too! This hot toddy will help me get through the evening. Maybe a fire in the fireplace, too!
Hi Liz, frigid and we may get some snow. Definitely need one or two of these! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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