This was intriguing to me. I’ve heard about Hot Buttered Rum for years. Back in the 90s, I worked at a steak house in Connecticut and the bartender in our sister restaurant in Guilford used to make one. I never tried it though. In those days I was all about grabbing a cold beer and maybe a shot. I remember it however because I worked a shift there once and I was worried what to do if anyone ordered one. They gave me the quick overview on how to make it, but I was still at a loss on how to serve it. Thankfully, no one ordered it. It smelled good though as it simmered on a hot plate near the service bar.
Hot buttered rum dates back to colonial times when rum was kind of a big deal. It was cheap and easily obtained and in fact was responsible for 1/5th of the colonial economy. It was said that in those early days in the Americas, the colonists, on average, drank half a pint of hard alcohol per person, per day.* And rum was the drink of choice back then. There is no documentation of how exactly buttered rum was created, but with all that rum drinking, they must have tried combining rum with everything. There were hundreds of rum cocktail recipes at the time and almost every house would have their own recipe for buttered rum too. That was a concoction that would help warm the soul on cold winter nights.
Hot buttered rum can still warm the soul, so that’s why I was anxious to make some, especially with a rainy, cold night in our future. I looked online and I found a recipe from one of our early Food Network favorites, Rachael Ray. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Lola and I used to spend Saturday mornings watching the whole line up on the Food Network. It was fun back then and gave us an appreciation for cooking at home. Lola will in fact say that Rachael Ray is the cook that gave her the confidence in cooking because she made it look easy and fun. One of Rachael Ray’s early shows was called $40 Dollars a Day and it was essentially a travel show where she would go to various cities and enjoy herself while sticking to a budget of $40 for three meals. It was an interesting concept and it was Rachael’s spunky and easy-peasy attitude that made you think you could do that too. It was a great peek into some unique destinations and a look at some hidden jewels for eating in those spots. Watching it made us hungry for food and travel. When I looked up the recipe for hot buttered rum, the recipe I found came from this show. It was from her travels to Sun Valley, ID where she stopped into a restaurant called the Duchin Lounge. Seeing it gave me instant nostalgia about watching that show and all those Saturday mornings. Now Rachael Ray is a bit of a celebrity, but back then, she was just an enthusiastic host our for adventure and unbeknownst to her, our friend. Making this recipe seemed perfect.
It was pretty easy to make and I had all the ingredients in house too. I took out a stick of butter earlier in the day and when it had softened, I added in brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and some ground cloves. I mixed that all together with my mixer and then moved it to another bowl. I was essentially done with the ingredients. It looked good and smelled delightful.
When Happy Hour rolled around, I boiled some water. I added big scoop of the butter to a coffee mug (big scoop), and poured in the water which instantly melted the butter. Then I poured in some spiced rum. I have been using Kraken Spiced Rum only because I happen to have a bottle of it, but I’m sure most people would prefer the Captain. Lola had made a fire to help take the chill out of the air and I served her a mug of some fresh hot buttered rum for her to enjoy beside it.
That’s about as cozy as it gets. Hot buttered rum is super tasty. It’s a rich buttery taste with all these warm spices floating around inside. It didn’t taste very boozy, and maybe my pour was a little weak, but it gave it a nice subtle kick. I was surprised at how good it tasted. Usually I am not one for warm drinks, but I could see this perfect for wintery days. In fact, if I made this for people coming off the slopes, I would be a hero, like one of those St. Bernard dogs with the barrel on its collar. In truth, I wasn’t all that cold so between the roaring fire and the hot beverage, I was starting to sweat a little. I’m never really one for heat and warmth. But still, if you are chilled, some hot buttered rum will hit the spot.
I feel like we got our colonial on tonight by enjoying this beverage by crackling fire and celebrating. This exact scene could have been happening in these parts 300 years ago – ending the day with buttered rum and a fire. There is something neat about that. It also felt fun to recall our time with Rachael Ray, like meeting up with an old friend. That’s the good thing about memories – they warm you up when you think of them. But if you can’t think of a good enough memory to warm you, some hot buttered rum will do the trick nicely. Cheers!
Next Up: National Peking Duck Day
*Source: The Daily Gazette