Why does a big sip of Hot Buttered Rum hit the spot in winter? The answer is in the name itself: it’s hot, it has butter and it has rum. It’s comfort food in a mug, plain and simple. Yet for some reason, this assessment isn’t universal. Dyspeptic cocktailian David Embury states in his 1948 book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” that this classic rum drink was “the worst” hot concoction. “The lump of butter is the final insult,” he says. “It blends with the hot rum just about as satisfactorily as warm olive oil blends with champagne! I believe that the drinking of Hot Buttered Rum should be permitted only in the Northwest Passage and, even there, only by highly imaginative and overenthusiastic novelists.”
Embury was sticking a shiv in Kenneth Roberts, the author of the 1937 bestselling historical novel, "Northwest Passage." Roberts had all but singlehandedly returned to favor this obscure colonial rum drink by incorporating it into his tale. “After a man’s had two-three drinks of Hot Buttered Rum, he don’t shoot a catamount,” states Roberts. “All he’s got to do is walk up to him and kiss him just once, then put him in his bag, all limp.” Perhaps not surprisingly, a small mania was born from it. Even Tiki maven Trader Vic included the Hot Buttered Rum cocktail in his 1946 “Book of Food and Drink,” with a nod to Roberts.
To Embury’s credit, he does single out the chief flaw in lesser versions of the drink: the greasy blob of melted butter floating on the surface, as recipes often call for simply adding a dollop before serving. The best solution to this buttery problem, however, is to instead use a batter made with, oddly enough, ice cream. This can then easily be stored in the freezer all winter, ready for use whenever desired. Once that’s batched out, all you need is some rum and some boiling water, leading to a smooth, creamy and perfectly incorporated Hot Buttered Rum.
Click Play to See This Hot Buttered Rum Recipe Come Together
- 2 ounces gold rum
- 1 tablespoon hot buttered rum batter*
- Boiling water, to top
- Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
- Garnish: cinnamon stick
Add the rum and batter into a mug.
Fill with boiling water and stir.
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.
*Hot buttered rum batter: In a large mixing bowl, add 1 pound softened butter, 1 pound brown sugar, 1 pound white sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon each ground clove and ground nutmeg. Stir to combine, then add 1 quart of lightly softened vanilla ice cream and stir again. Transfer to a container with a lid, seal and store in the freezer.