it’s not surprising that National Buttered Rum day falls on January 17th; it’s just far enough away from the Holidays that the cheer is dwindling, yet still during the bitter cold of winter, where a warm drink is a much needed comfort.
However, the fans of Hot Buttered Rum are few and far between, and many think that there are simply far better warm alcoholic drinks out there to enjoy. I can honestly say that I am one who usually falls into this category; typically it is either too oily or too full of the wrong kind of Rum.
Hot Buttered Rums are a tricky beast.
You see, the number one complaint when it comes to Hot Buttered Rum drinks is, that a main component is butter; that when melted, leaves an oily residue on the surface of the drink. This is usually neither appetizing, nor appealing.
The idea basically comes down to the question:
Why would you ever want to drink melted butter anyways?
The answer to that lies in its history and its purpose in the drinking world.
The first mention of “Buttered Rum” goes back somewhere to around the 17th century in colonial America, but the idea of “butter” or fattening agents in alcohol drinks goes much farther back.
One of the oldest forms of adding a fat source to a warmed alcoholic drink goes back as far as the 14th century in a Caudle. In this case, the fat source was an egg… See, caudles are customary made of warm ale or wine mixed with bread, eggs, sugar, and spices. By adding extra fat and calories (from the sugar), the drinker would receive extra nourishment and extra warmth.
That is the key to this type of drink. During the middle ages, many could use whatever warmth they could get; whether it be from a warm drink or putting a few extra pounds on their bones. Even now, it is recommended to add a little bit of butter to hot chocolate to keep you warm on chilly camping nights.
Eggs weren’t the only fat source that people would add to warm alcoholic drinks. It was sometime around the 16th century they started to add warm cream or curdled milk to their alcohol. A posset is a drink made of hot milk with ale, wine, or liquor and typically flavored with spices. Most often, due to the acid content of the ale or wine, the milk would become curdled in the process. Sometimes an egg or egg white was added, and sometime it was just the warm cream mixed with sugar and then the alcohol. Possets were a common and very popular drink all the way through the 18th century.
Shortly after Possets were popular came the Syllabub. The syllabub is a whipped cream dessert (once again, usually with eggs or eggs white added) typically flavored with a warm white wine or sherry.
That brings us back to the Hot Buttered Rum, because some of the best tasting hot buttered rums come from family recipes that creates an ice cream like base and freezes it until you are ready to put it in your hot rum. After all, ice cream is made up of eggs, cream and sugar… the same ingredients in syllabubs and possets.
I personally have a problem with this technique for two reasons. The first reason, would be that when you add cold ice cream to hot rum it makes a melted ice cream mess that I can honestly say that I am NOT a fan of. The second reason I don’t recommend this is because it calls for you to heat the rum, which will start to burn off part of the alcohol.
Instead, I recommend creating an almost pre-caramel sauce of melted butter, BROWN sugar, cinnamon and apple pie spice. Normally, you would add some warm water to this mix but I recommend adding cider and your rum of CHOICE.
In my opinion, the three keys to a good hot buttered rum are to make sure you use brown sugar instead of white sugar, warmed cider, and to make sure you use a rum you enjoy. Why should you use the cider instead of water? Because it helps to add body to the drink and mixes well (really well) with the butter. Also by adding cider instead of water you are less likely to notice any potential residual unappetizing greasy sheen on the top of the drink.
Finally and most importantly, make sure you choose a rum you enjoy. White rum, dark rum, or spiced rum it honestly doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it. And if you are like me and really don’t enjoy the taste of rum, substitute in some bourbon.
And if you would like to share similar portions of what I enjoy when I make my hot buttered “something” drink —
- 1 sm. slice soft butter ( no more than ½ tbsp. worth)
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- shake of cinnamon and a tsp of pumpkin or apple pie seasoning
- 2 oz. hot cider (and a little extra to fill your mug)
- 2 oz. rum
Warm the butter till melted and add in the brown sugar and spices. Heat on low heat till melted and mixed. Add in 2 ounces of apple cider ( or juice if you don’t have cider). Heat until warm, and by warm that means before bubbling but after where you can no longer comfortably put your finger in it. Remove from heat and pour into your favorite mug. Finally add in 2 ounces of your favorite rum or other alcohol. If you have extra space in your cup feel free to add extra warm cider. Enjoy!!