Here’s a drink I instantly fell in love with the first time I tried it at one of the bars I used to work at. The hot buttered rum was considered to possess health benefits due to its warm and spicy nature – for example, even nowadays many of my fellow Eastern Europeans would drink boiled, or mulled if you’d like, brandy whenever they’d experience a severe cold. Personally I’m not sure about the hot buttered rum restoring properties, but I can guarantee it will definitely warm you up.
The hot buttered rum finds its origins all the way back to the 1650s when rum was becoming popular, and the people of New England started adding it to various hot concoctions. Everyone had their own recipe and it’s no surprise at least a couple of bartenders published the drink in recipe books such as Jerry Thomas’ “Bartenders Guide”. Even one of the tiki’s fathers, Trade Vic, made his very own hot buttered rum whose which he included in his “Bartender’s Guide”.
The hot buttered rum generally calls for some aged rum, butter, brown sugar and warm spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Nowadays you can find recipes galore online, but my complaint is that many of them seem fairly complicated for a drink you’d like to make quickly in the comfort of your own home – and that’s coming from me…
So instead of melting the butter carefully and having a shelf of spices at hand you can make this drink simply by using rum, two spiced liqueurs and cloudy apple juice – and, of course, butter!
Let’s break down the ingredients before we get to the recipe:
- Cloudy Pressed Apple Juice
This is the only soft liquid ingredient, it’s the base, or canvas if you’d like, of the drink and it offers both sweetness and some sharp edge for balance. Also, it just works great with all the other ingredients.
You’d think this might be easy, I mean it’s apple juice, but it is very important to use cloudy 100% apple juice.
This is because clear apple juice is stripped off of its solids in order to make it more appealing and it also comes off sweeter, but we do not want that – since there is no citrus in our recipe, you’d end up with a sickly-sweet beverage. The cloudy juice is a little more tart, which is a necessity in this rich drink and as an added bonus it’s healthier as it preserves all the fibres and antioxidants.
- John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum
The falernum acts as the main sweetener while adding some subtle spices and a hint of citrus flavour.
Falernum is a Barbadian liqueur that uses rum as the base to which lime, spices and sugar are added. Originally, falernum was just a combo of rum, sugar and lime, but it evolved into having various other spices as they became increasingly popular in the Caribbean. The exact falernum recipe is a secret, but it’s believed to contain at least cloves and almonds alongside the limes.
The John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum is the most genuine falernum you’ll find on the market, and arguably, the best. It clocks at only 11% ABV and it has plenty of sweetness, hence why it can easily be used as a substitute for syrup.
- The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram
This is the main bundle of spices in our drink, all of them in one bottle… well technically only one, but it accounts for four.
The pimento dram is actually an allspice liqueur which, similar to Falernum, uses rum as its base. Allspice, also known as Jamaican pepper or pimenta, is actually a dried unripe berry that packs the combo flavour of cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg – hence its name.
The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram uses Jamaican rum, sugarcane sugar and allspice and it’s highly potent in flavour. Only a small amount is enough to elevate and add a considerable amount of spiciness to a drink – it clocks at 22% ABV.
Finally, the rum, the kick, the punch, the main player of the drink.
Wood’s Navy Rum is sourced from Guyana and is made in the style of the rum that used to be served in the British Royal Navy. It also contains a considerable amount of caramel, making its profile bitter and rich with notes of burnt sugar, treacle, liquorice, ground coffee, raisins and dark chocolate.
The reason I chose Wood’s is because of its flavour profile, value for money and strength – 57% ABV. I do like my drinks with a punch, but if you don’t, you can use other caramel laced rums at lower strength such as Skipper’s, O.V.D., Lamb’s or Pusser’s Blue Label. I would like the emphasise the fact that this drink works better with rums sourced from Guyana to which caramel was added, the bitterness pairs really well with the intense, rich nature of the hot buttered rum.
- Salted Butter
Once again being a little specific, but the salted butter is better than unsalted butter here. It adds another dimension, and the salt simply brings out all the other spices and flavours of the drink while balancing it.
The fatness of the butter itself makes the drink moreish and helps with the richness, making it easier to palate.
Cloudy Apple Juice – 250ml
John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum – 35ml
The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram – 10ml
Wood’s Navy Rum – 60ml
Salted Butter – 1 small piece (by taste)
Add all the ingredients except the butter to a pan and bring it up close to boil – I personally use a designated electric kettle for that because I’m lazy. When it’s hot enough just pour it into your favourite mug (don’t just use any vessel, make sure it can withstand the heat) and add the butter on top.
As you sip it the butter will melt and add more flavours to the drink, changing it over time – it’s an absolute treat. My hot buttered rum is quite intense, but if you follow my instructions and use the right ingredients it will end up being balanced. The tartness from the cloudy juice, the bitterness of the navy style rum and the saltiness of the butter are all working together to cut through the sweet and rich nature of the drink.
This recipe is made to fit a standard tea mug, but you can always scale down if needed. You can also scale up, pre-batch the drink and then just heat it up and add the butter when you want to serve it. Obviously feel free to play with the quantities, I promise I won’t be offended, we all have different tastes, but I found this to be really easy to make/prep and to be absolutely delicious.
Hope this helps warm up your winter, feel free to send me any kind of feedback on the drink if you manage to make it.
Have a great holiday and a happy Christmas!