How to Make Hot Buttered Rum (Just in Time for the Holidays)

hot buttered rum
As fall and winter settle on most of the U.S., warm cocktails should make their way into a drinker’s rotation — like hot buttered rum.

Hot buttered rum is a classic, Colonial-era cocktail from when the spirit was far more popular in the United States than today. Perhaps the most daunting step in any recipe is making the batter, aka the sweet buttery goodness (and the key ingredient, besides the rum). The trick, according to Maureen Di Virgilio — a bartender at Grove in Grand Rapids, Michigan — is to not over-complicate it

“The batter is surprisingly easy to make,” Di Virgilio says. “You have to play around with the butter to sugar ratio, as well as the spice profile. Use a sugar with some character, like brown sugar or turbinado.”

In her recipe,  slips in Amaro Averna, an herbaceous liqueur, which plays with ginger mate tea she also adds. Using tea is an easy way to add some flavor and, in Di Virgilio’s case, a ginger kick. Jut don’t go overboard, because you want the rum stands out.

Dark rum is best, Di Virgilio says, because it can stand up to the richness of the butter. She suggests avoiding super high-end spirits, since the butter and spices can temper the subtle characteristics that make those bottles worth the money. (May we suggest one of these rums under $20?)

When it comes to making hot buttered rum for large gatherings, especially during the holiday season, Di Virgilio reminds us you to be prepared. “Keep it simple and have your batter prepped out and easily accessible if you don’t get a lot of time to spend per cocktail,” she says. “The great thing is, if you have a flavorful rum and a well-made batter, you don’t need a whole lot else.”

Maureen’s Basic Hot Buttered Rum Recipe

  • 1.5 oz rum*
  • 1.5 oz house batter**
  • 0.5 oz Amaro Averna
  • 0.25 oz ginger mate tee
  • 4 oz hot water

Method: Stir all together thoroughly in a heated mug. “Garnish-wise, microplaning spice on top to order – like nutmeg – is easy and aromatic,” Di Virgilio said. “I like the brûléed lemon – a hint of citrus to cut into the butter and visual stimulation to offset the simplicity of the presentation.”

*Grove uses a blend of one part of the Grand Rapids-based Gray Skies Distillery, half-part part Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum, and one-fourth part Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-year.

**Your batter should be your own mix of butter, sugar, and spices. If you need a place to start, check out this blend.

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