Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Hot Buttered Rum

A few weeks ago, a friend was asking why she couldn’t find the recipe for Hot Buttered Rum on the site. We realized it’s because we had never posted it. It’s time to fix that!

There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to Hot Buttered Rum. One is that the best recipe is actually not for the cocktail at all but rather a batter that you use as the basis for the drink. It’s hard to deny that a good batter recipe probably makes a fantastic cocktail, but there is another approach that we find appealing for a different reason. It follows the idea that if a recipe is too hard or just too time consuming, you probably aren’t going to make it. We don’t like to back away from a challenge, but we also recognize that not everyone wants to commit to a full-blown batter recipe when they only want to mix one or two drinks. Batters are usually made in bulk resulting in a quantity suitable for a houseful of guests. You can often freeze it if you don’t use it all at once, but it just seems like a lot of extra work when all you want is a single cocktail to chase away the chill in the air. That’s why we have always enjoyed the recipe Robert Hess featured on one of his videos. It’s simple, does not take much time, and you can get away with making just a single glassful.

Instead of using a batter, this shortcut version brings all of the basic flavors together without making a mess. The only prep work you have to do is to put a kettle on the stove and start heating up some water while you gather the other ingredients. You’ll need a pat of butter, some brown sugar, the hot water and some rum. You should also pick an appropriate glass for your drink. A ceramic coffee cup works, but we chose a vintage Belgian glass mug which was perfectly sized for the job. Whatever you use, make sure it can withstand the shock of boiling water without breaking.

Hot Buttered Rum
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoon brown sugar
5 oz boiling water
2 oz rum

Preheat your mug with hot water and discard. Add the butter and brown sugar to the empty hot glass. Pour over 5 ounces of hot water and stir to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Add the rum and stir to incorporate. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

The key to this recipe is temperature. Normally, we put a lot of emphasis on ice in cocktails. Chilling the glass, using enough ice when shaking, paying attention to ingredients to help decide if you should be stirring, considering the size of the cubes for how they affect dilution—these are all important factors for a cold drink. So, it stands to reason that you should also be mindful of how you construct a cocktail designed to be served hot. That means you should be pre-heating the glass. But before you do, it can be helpful to know how much hot water you plan to add during construction. If you know you are adding five ounces, make a note of how high that is in your glass so you aren’t wasting heat and burning your fingers later while you measure boiling water!

Once you know how much water you will need to add, go ahead and fill your glass completely with boiling water. Give the glass a few moments to heat up before you empty it and start assembling the drink. For this recipe, we just added two spoonfuls of brown sugar. Were they exact teaspoons? Probably not. Did we even measure the butter? Nope. This is a fast and easy recipe, and it will taste good anyway. Added to a hot glass, the butter should already start to melt. Pour in the water and try to come close to hitting the mark you noted earlier. The preheated glass should be helping to maintain a very hot mixture while you stir to dissolve everything. Finally, add your rum and give it a final stir before garnishing with nutmeg.

We find this recipe lends itself to rich flavorful rums. We used Lemon Hart 80-proof which is a Demerara rum from Guyana, but you can probably get away with just about anything. Darker may be better, but you cannot create a bad version of this if your rum selection is limited. To top it off, make an effort to use freshly grated nutmeg. If you are not using fresh nutmeg whenever called for you are really missing the flavor. The little nutmegs last a very long time and when you draw one across a grater the whole room fills with its aroma. There’s so little to this recipe that everything you add counts. Don’t pass on the garnish because it adds so much.

As the Summit Sips vintage glassware inventory continues to grow, we are adding new finds almost every other week to be enjoyed by our readers. This mug as well as many other cocktail glasses are available. Individual inventory levels vary because most items are unique. Once they are gone, they may never return.

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Ann Ruud
Ann Ruud
12 years ago

Yummy, Randy. I used one ounce of Mt. Gay and one ounce of Kraken. So glad I listened to my gut and bought fresh nutmeg on my last Penzey’s visit!

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
12 years ago

Yeah, fresh nutmeg makes all the difference. Mount Gay + Kraken sounds like a great combo! I would try it right now if I hadn’t just opened a bottle of Pinot Noir.