As the holidays draw to a close we can now reflect on our good times and fond memories. I for one am glad the season is ending. It was great, but it was also exhausting. The one thing I will take away was the feeling of serving a new cocktail for the first time at a party and having it totally work out: the classic cold-weather tipple, Hot Buttered Rum. I had never made Hot Buttered Rum before (heck, I had never even HAD Hot Buttered Rum before), but I know two things to be true: (1) I love rum, and (2) butter makes everything better.
First I went through my cocktail books; Wondrich, Stoltie, and a pile of others, even the Playboy one. Online, there was a good-sounding recipe from Emeril Lagasse. I looked at all of these recipes and took an educated guess to create a recipe that sounded good to me. I chose to make a batter that was a hybrid of the Wondrich and Lagasse recipes… sort of.
The first question was ice cream or no ice cream. That’s right, half of the Hot Buttered Rum recipes you will find have ice cream in the batter. This is probably tasty, but this is a modern introduction and I am interested in a more traditional approach for this classic cocktail that has roots in the hot grogs of the Colonial era. The historical recipes call for an acorn sized piece of butter and separate spices added to each glass. Since when is an acorn an international standard of measurement? When was the last time you actually saw an acorn? I decided to solve the acorn or pat of butter problem by making a batter, and to be honest, I enjoyed this recipe so much that I think I will be saving the ice cream for the top of my pie.
Making a batter in a stand mixer is a modern technique and is a good way to go. I think the spices incorporate with the butter better and it is the easiest way to make several consistent servings. Also, by using a small cookie scoop like you would an ice cream scoop you can serve them really quickly, which you will need to do, because your drinkers will be back for more in short order.
Hot Buttered Rum Batter
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Two sticks of butter
One cup brown sugar
One cup raw sugar
Let your butter come to room temperature. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer. Add the spices (freshly ground if possible) and the salt. Let it mix until you have a nice batter. Check the taste, and add more salt if need be. I always use unsalted butter so I can control the salt level.
Next you will want to scoop your batter into a container and pop it into the fridge. A few hours in the fridge will let the flavors come together and make it cold enough for easy scooping. Once I am ready to serve the drinks, I use a cookie scoop that is about a tablespoon. If you figure that the mixture is about one third butter and two thirds sugar, then it works out that you are getting about a teaspoon of butter in each drink. Is a teaspoon really the same size as an acorn? I am going to say that this is about right, but you can always adjust to your taste.
Hot Buttered Rum
One tablespoon prepared Hot Buttered Rum batter
One ounce dark Jamaican rum (like Coruba)
One ounce aged Barbados rum (like Plantation)
Dash of bitters (I like orange bitters but others should work well too)
Scoop batter into an 8oz glass; add the rum, bitters and a cinnamon stick. Top with two to three ounces hot water (my punch mugs hold five ounces) just before you serve and instruct your guests to stir with the cinnamon stick until the drink comes together.
Any aged rum will likely work pretty well. I used a mix of Coruba and Plantation Barbados 5 Year. If you are serving a group, you can pre-blend your rums for easy pouring. The key here is that you want a rum or rum mixture that is robust enough to compliment the spices. There are plenty of rums that will work great for this, but I would always use some Jamaican in the mix. Whip cream and freshly grounded nutmeg can be added on top, but it really isn’t necessary. Leftover batter will keep in the freezer for two to three months, giving you Hot Buttered Rum on hand all winter long.