While I like each of the components named in the drink—heat (which is especially welcome in early January), butter, of course, and rum (what's not to like)—the idea of mixing them together into a warm, boozy drink topped with a slick of butterfat always deterred me from actually making it.
But this recent holiday season, while needing something warm but wanting something out of my usual rotation, I gave the drink a spin and discovered that with a little TLC, the hot-buttered rum in your mug can turn out as good as the one in your imagination.
While you can purchase hot-buttered rum batter in a supermarket, as a general rule I'd suggest you try making your own.
I wound up trying several versions, as well as reviewing a number of recipes, some of which call for as few ingredients as rum, hot water, butter and sugar, while others were more replete with spices, flavorings and other ingredients such as vanilla ice cream (and some like to mix things up by using black tea instead of the boiling water).
I'm not much of one for dessert drinks, so this recipe hews closer to the middle of the range, with the requisite butter and sugar but with a little spice to help liven things up. By creaming the butter with the sugar and spices you can also better avoid that dreaded oil slick appearance, and when choosing a rum, go for something big and rich.
The Demerara rums from El Dorado work wonders, as does a robust Jamaican rum like Coruba, or something dark and mellow like Zaya or Zacapa. This recipe makes enough batter for several drinks and keeps well in the fridge. Or better yet, on this chilly winter weekend, invite some friends over and mix up enough to keep the crowd warm.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces brown sugar or Demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- For each drink:
- 2 tablespoons batter, to taste
- 2 ounces dark rum
- 4 ounces boiling water
- Ground nutmeg, for garnish
Cream the butter with the sugar in a stand mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon) and add the spices. Keep refrigerated.
Add batter to a warm mug and pour in 2 ounces of boiling water. Stir to mix, add rum and the rest of the water, stir again. Garnish with fresh nutmeg.