Hot Buttered Rum Triumphant

I wrote, some years ago, an article about rum and its many uses. In it, I mentioned that I don’t understand hot buttered rum, because I’ve never found a recipe for it that resulted in something even remotely drinkable.

Nat provided me with a recipe at the time, but it just didn’t work for me somehow. This week, however, he lent me a copy of David Wondrich’s awesome book Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail To Whiskey Smash, A Saulte In Stories And Drinks To “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. While flipping through, I saw his recipe for hot buttered rum. “Worth a shot,” I muttered to myself.

It’s fantastic.

The recipe is simplicity itself:

  • 1 teaspoonful of sugar
  • 1 Wine-glass [2 oz] of Jamaica Rum
  • 1 Teaspoonful of spices (allspice and cloves)
  • 1 piece of butter as large as half of a chestnut

Fill tumbler with [3-4 oz] hot water.

I’ve tried to make this drink tens of times based on various internet recipes, and it’s clear that it’s one of those alchemical mixtures where getting the proportions even a little wrong results in something horrifying. This recipe works. It’s balanced, has a nice texture, and is delicious. Thanks to David Wondrich, Jerry Thomas, and Nat for setting me straight.

I’ll be picking up my copy of Imbibe! this week. It’s a wonderful reference, and the historical discussion of the evolution of the cocktail from the protoplasmic punch through slings, fizzes, and cocktails makes for fascinating reading.

If you buy the book via the Amazon link above, Tea Leaves gets a kickback, which I promise we will spend only on booze. That’s how dedicated we are to you, our readers.

Since I’m discussing one hot drink here, let me mention another: oyawari. Simply hot whiskey and water (itself mentioned in Wondrich’s book), you can read step by step instructions on how to make it at one of my favorite liquor-related blogs, Nonjatta. I read Nonjatta to torture myself, since of all the hundreds upon hundreds of fine Japanese whiskeys they discuss, only one is available in the United States. But distance lends enchantment, and someday, perhaps, the global economy will come to my rescue.