Each fall, pumpkins and other gourds come out in full force. They adorn doorsteps, festoon display windows and dominate restaurant tables, but these seasonal favorites are more than just decorations. Increasingly, bartenders are incorporating them into cocktails.
One such cocktail is the Butter “Nut” Craig by D.C. bartender, bar owner and distiller Todd Thrasher. It combines dark rum and orange liqueur with butternut squash, fresh lemon juice and aromatic bitters. At first glance, rum might seem to be the key element in this cocktail—after all, it’s used in the highest quantity. But take one sip, and you’ll know that it’s the orange liqueur that steals the show. The cordial—you can use triple sec or orange curaçao, per your preference—deftly balances the winter squash’s earthiness with the rum’s spice and the glittery cinnamon-sugar rim.
Rather than squash muddled in a shaker tin, the drink calls for a homemade butternut squash puree doctored with brown sugar, molasses and salt. It’s quick and easy to make, and if you scale up the recipe, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to make a few rounds for your guests during the holidays. Because anyone can serve butternut squash alongside some turkey, but a true host mixes it with rum and orange liqueur. Try it, and don’t be surprised when all your friends and family request a second helping.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 ounces dark rum, divided
- 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
- 1/4 cup butternut squash base*
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 lemon wedges, freshly squeezed
- 5 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: cinnamon and sugar rim
Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, add 1/2 ounce rum.
Dip the rim of a double-rocks glass into the rum followed by the cinnamon-sugar to coat, and set aside.
Add the butternut squash base, remaining 1 1/2 ounces rum, orange liqueur, simple syrup, bitters and juice of 2 lemon wedges into a cocktail shaker and quickly stir to combine. Then fill with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into the prepared glass.
*Butternut squash base: Combine 1/2 cup butternut squash puree (or pumpkin puree), 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 tsp molasses and a pinch of salt. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.