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rye whiskey, social hour, tom macy, cocktail, classic cocktail

Hot Buttered Rum



  • 2 oz aged rum

  • heavy ½ oz demerara syrup

  • heaping teaspoon spiced compound butter

  • 3 ½ oz water

  • grated nutmeg for garnish


On the Stove

Place butter in a mug. Combine rum, syrup, and water in a small pot or saucepan.  Cover and heat until barely bubbling.  Pour mixture into the mug, and stir until the butter is melted.

Grate nutmeg on top.


In the Microwave

Combine all ingredients, including butter, in a mug and microwave for 90 seconds or so.  Stir until butter is melted.  Then bring on the nutmeg.


I’ll come right out and say it, I think a traditional Hot Buttered Rum is a little flat.   It’s not that it’s a bad drink (when made well that is, when made poorly it’s quite awful), but for me, even the best of them don’t deliver the delectably sinful pleasures suggested by its name.


The key to a Hot Buttered Rum that’ll truly make your eyes roll is compound butter, which is just a fancy word for butter with stuff added to it - in this case, baking spiced and brown sugar.  It injects a ton of flavor into the drink and enhances all the other ingredients around it. Some extra prep is required, but it is beyond simple and you probably have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen right now.  


Some other important factors: measure accurately - even the water - and use good rum, something dark or with a deep amber color.  I like Ron Zacapa and Santa Teresa 1796 quite a lot.


To take things a step further and make the best Hot Buttered Rum you'll ever have, check out the Hot Browned Buttered Rum recipe further down the page.



Sugar Alternatives

The sugar portion of a Hot Buttered Rum is like threading a needle.  Not enough and it’s thin and watery, too much and it’s unbearably sweet.  But don’t’ fret, anything is fixable.  You can always add more sugar and if you overdo it, just add a ¼ oz or so more rum.


I like using demerara syrup in a Hot Buttered Rum for the same reasons I like it in an Old Fashioned.  Though you can also use brown sugar in the syrup or traditional 1:1 simple syrup - in which case use ¾ oz.  You can also use raw sugar, which is one of the great things about hot drinks: sugar dissolves! Use about 2 heaping teaspoons (scant tablespoon), again dark/brown sugar is ideal, but any kind will get the job done.


Traditional Hot Buttered Rum

For a traditional Hot Buttered Rum just use regular butter.  Again this is not a bad drink by any means, and you can’t argue with its simplicity.  Getting it good and hot does wonders, and don’t forget the nutmeg. You may want to up the sugar portion too. I use a scant ¾ oz of demerara syrup.


Salted or Unsalted Butter?

It doesn't matter all that much, to be honest.  I think I prefer salted butter because it brightens the other flavors, particularly when using the spiced butter. 


Pour Over Method

While it isn't my preference, some hot drinks work fine if you simply pour boiling water over the booze and other ingredients, like a Hot Toddy for example.  But a Hot Buttered Rum should really be heated all at once - save for the butter.  Those extra few degrees really make the drink sing.  Plus, when they’re lukewarm the butter will start to collect in a layer on the top of the drink, which is not very appetizing.  Given this, not a bad idea to serve this drink with a spoon.


That being said, you can heat the butter with the other ingredients in the pan or microwave too.  I just like to stir it in separately because it brings the drink down from scalding to pleasantly piping hot.  That, and I somehow find watching the butter melt oddly satisfying.

Hot Browned-Buttered Rum

The best Hot Buttered Rum I’ve ever had is with rum that has been infused with browned butter.  We do this at Clover Club.  It adds delicious nutty, caramelized flavors and more buttery richness but without any extra oiliness.  The infusion involves a technique called fat-washing, which is the same technique I use to infuse hazelnuts into bourbon for my Log Cabin and Bourbon Hazelnut Eggnog.  


The drink recipe almost identical to the one above, only you don’t need quite as much butter, or sugar thanks to the added sweetness from those Maillard reactions in the browned butter.  It's fantastic with the spiced butter, though in this case, regular butter is just fine too.  The infusion supplies plenty of flavors to make the drink soar.



  • 2 oz browned butter-infused rum

  • ½ oz demerara syrup

  • 3 ½ oz hot water 

  • heaping teaspoon spiced compound butter

  • grated nutmeg for garnish


Prepare as above.


Browned Butter-Infused Rum


  • 2 cups aged rum

  • 1 stick butter - ¼ pound


  1. Brown the butter - Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium. After about 3-5 minutes, the butter will take on a foamy consistency, turn golden brown, and give off a caramelized aroma (there may be some splattering along the way).  Once this happens, remove from heat to avoid burning. Ses the images below.

  2. Pour the butter into a heatproof container, a mason jar works well.  Let it cool for a minute or two (those dark specs that collected at the bottom of the pan are burned milk proteins.  You can leave them behind, but don’t worry if they come along for the ride).

  3. Add rum and freeze - Pour the rum into the container with the butter.   Do not stir!  I know it’s counter-intuitive, but the result is much better if you let the butter and rum work things out themselves.  Place the mixture the freezer for about 2 hours - longer for an extra large batch.

  4. Remove butter and strain - After its time the freezer, the butter will have solidified in a single layer on top of the rum.  Simply remove it, it should lift out in one big slab.  Pour the rum through a kitchen strainer to remove any remaining solids, and refrigerate.

If you make a Hot Buttered Rum, let me see!  Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.

Spiced Compound Butter

Feel free to experiment with other spices here.  I particularly love the savory hint that cardamom provides, but you can replace it with ground nutmeg or more cloves. As with my other baking spice blends - Tom & Jerry, Mulled Wine, Mulled Cider - cinnamon in the most important.  By the way, this is also delicious on toast and baked goods (though you may want to add a bit more brown sugar for).


  • 1 stick of butter

  • teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice

  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


Let butter soften.  Cream the spices into the butter. Refrigerate.


Aside: compound butter can be made with any aromatic ingredient and used with all kinds of food.  One of my favorites is garlic, thyme, and rosemary.  It's phenomenal with steak and fried eggs - among other things. 

rye whiskey, social hour, tom macy, cocktail, classic cocktail



Brown Butter Rum

Browning Butter

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