Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum is an American tradition that goes back to the first colonists, who imported rum from the Caribbean and later set up their own stateside distilleries to quench their thirst for this and other hot-toddy-style recipes.

Given its long history, it’s no wonder that every family has their own recipe. Some old recipes call for the butter to be mixed in at the last step – a process which enraged David Embury, author of 1948’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. “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!”

The secret to a rich, not-at-all-oily Hot Buttered Rum is to start by beating the butter, sugar, and spices together in a batter. This aerates the butter and allows it to mix more thoroughly with the hot water and rum. The batter portion of the recipe can be scaled up and frozen – in fact, it’s a wonderful preparation to make at the start of a long, cold winter.

We love this recipe from Leo Robitschek at NoMad Bar from New York City. It’s simple, but you can put your own twist on it by adding spices like cinnamon or star anise to the batter. Robitschek’s recipe calls for an aged Venezuelan rum, but you can try it with any aged rum that tickles your fancy.

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Begin by making the butter batter. Let the butter come to room temperature, and mix well with the sugar and nutmeg. This recipe will make more than you need for one drink, so roll up the rest in plastic wrap or store it in a small covered dish and keep in the freezer. Note that the butter and sugar measures are by volume; in the US, it’d be a stick of butter and a quarter-cup of sugar.

This next part requires a little math. For each serving of Hot Buttered Rum, you’ll need the same amount of rum as butter batter. So if you’ve got the Cocktail Party app set to show ounces, and you’re making one serving, you’ll need two ounces of rum and two ounces of the butter batter. You’ll also need 2.5 times as much hot water as rum – in that same scenario, you’d need 5 ounces of hot water.

In a heavy, heatproof mug or glass, add the rum, hot water, and batter. Whisk it thoroughly until the top is fluffy, and grate fresh nutmeg on top.

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