Hot buttered rum

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Hot buttered rum
Hot buttered rum - close-up.jpg
Hot buttered rum in a mug
TypeMixed drink
Standard drinkware
Coffee cup
Commonly used ingredientsRum, butter, hot water or cider, sweetener and spices

Hot buttered rum is a mixed drink containing rum, butter, hot water or cider, a sweetener, and various spices (usually cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves).[1][2] It is especially popular in the fall and winter and is traditionally associated with the holiday season. In the United States, the drink has a lengthy history that dates back to colonial days.[3] During that time many families had their own individual recipes, and early Americans believed rum to be nutritious and a strengthener of the body.[4]

In How to Mix Drinks: Or, The Bon-vivant's Companion,[5] mid-19th-century bartender Jerry Thomas provides two recipes (No. 207 and 208, p. 80) for hot rum drinks. The first is called Hot Spiced Rum. The recipe calls for sugar, Jamaica rum, cloves, allspice, butter, and hot water. The second is simply called Hot Rum, and the recipe is the same as for Hot Spiced Rum but omits the spices. In their stead a bit of nutmeg is grated over the top of the drink.


Some versions call for vanilla ice cream as a substitute or complement to the butter for added creaminess. New versions that some believe to be healthier employ organic coconut oil instead of butter.[6]

Tiki versions[edit]

Hot Buttered Rum saw new interest in the 1940s as a Tiki drink when it was typically served in a ceramic skull mug or modified to become Coffee Grog.[7] Trader Vic provided a recipe for "hot buttered rum batter" in his Bartender's Guide which called for 1 lb. of brown sugar, 1/4 lb. of butter, salt and other spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves). In touting the virtues of Hot Buttered Rum he also provided a warning: "As usually served, it is a weak little noggin with bits of butter floating on top which look good stuck on the customer's upper lip. I urge the use of a batter in order to make some fine drinks".[8] The batter was also used as a basis in other warm alcoholic drinks of his creation such as the Northwest Passage and Hot Buttered Rum Cow.

Beyond Trader Vic, at least two other different Tiki versions were also made circa 1950.[9] One was the Volcano House Hot Buttered Rum from the Volcano House Hotel in Hawaii, and the other was the Pub and Prow Hot Buttered Rum from a Chicago restaurant of the same name. The Volcano House Hotel's recipe was unusual in that it also called for Maraschino liqueur.

While overproof rum such as Bacardi 151 or Stroh 160 can be used in some versions, early recipes do not call for the drink to be lit on fire when served, even though it is now sometimes done and is part of the presentation for the hot-buttered rum based Coffee Grog.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

A close-up view of hot buttered rum

Kenneth Roberts worked the drink into his story for the bestselling 1937 novel Northwest Passage, which some also attribute to the drink's renewed popularity in the 1940s.[11] Wrote Roberts: “After a man’s had two—three drinks of hot buttered rum, he don’t shoot a catamount".

In season 5 Episode 14 of the American TV Sitcom Frasier, titled: Ski Lodge. Martin Crane proclaims his intentions to make hot buttered rum to keep warm.

Some celebrate January 17th as "Hot Buttered Rum Day".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cotton, Leo (1935). Old Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartenders Guide (6th printing ed.). Boston: Berke Bros.
  2. ^ "How to make hot buttered rum". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Holiday Drinks: Hot Buttered Rum". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Hot buttered rum has roots dating before American Revolution". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  5. ^ Thomas, Jerry, "How to Mix Drinks: Or, the Bon-Vivant's Companion", New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, 1862. 263 pages. available via
  6. ^ "Has hot buttered rum lost its mind?". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  7. ^ Bergeron, Victor (1948). Bartender's Guide (Reprint ed.). Garden City Books. p. 19.
  8. ^ Vic, Trader (1972). Bartender's Guide Revised (revised ed.). Garden City, NY: Double Day & Co.
  9. ^ Berry, Jeff (2010). Beachbum Berry Remixed. San Jose: Club Tiki Press. p. 152.
  10. ^ "Trader Vic Drinks". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  11. ^ "In Defense of Hot Buttered Rum". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Hot Buttered Rum Day". Retrieved 9 February 2019.