When the nights get cold, nothing soothes better than a warm beverage. Sure, hot tea and coffee are always welcome, but there's nothing like a warm cocktail. Hot Buttered Rum has been drunk by Americans to warm their tummies on frigid winter night since the colonial days when each family had their own recipe for the warm drink. Before Americans had electric Christmas lights and watched Charlie Brown on television, a celebration wouldn't be complete without a mug of Hot Buttered Rum.

The History of Hot Buttered Rum

Back in colonial times, rum ran like water. Micheal Lamendola, author of "Hot Buttered Rum has Roots Dating Before American Revolution," spoke with Scott Haefner, caretaker of Fort Johnson about the liqueur. "Alcohol consumption in Colonial America by our measures was staggering," Haefner said. "People drank rum as we drink milk. It was the standard everywhere. Americans drank from the crack of dawn to dusk. Everyone drank it: children, women, men." In fact, when running for office in 1758 George Washington and his agents gave Frederick County voters 160 gallons of rum, beer, wine, and ciders to help with the election. Equaled out, it was about 1 quart of alcohol per vote.

Along with tasting great, early Americans drank hot liquor as a way to restore the heat they lost throughout the day. It was also healthier to drink than some of the polluted water people drank. Substituting alcohol for water was a safe (and tasty) bet that you could live another day.

Hot Cocktail Recipes

Aside from Hot Buttered Rum, there were a number of hot cocktail recipes Americans used to make to keep warm. For the little ones, hot chocolate is always a fun option!

Hot Toddy

bourbon cough syrup

Boiling water, cloves, lemon juice, and bourbon (or whiskey) will warm your bones.

Get the recipe here.

Mulled Wine

Red wine warmed with mulling spices (whole cloves, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorn) and oranges, make this a sweet holiday drink.

Get the recipe here.

Eggnog

Enjoyed either hot or cold, Eggnog is a creamy combo of bourbon, eggs, heavy cream, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Get the recipe here.

Irish Coffee

Hot coffee, brown sugar, Irish whiskey, and whipped cream make this an energizing cocktail.

Get the recipe here.

How to Make Hot Buttered Rum

There are two parts to a hot buttered rum recipe, the hot buttered rum batter, and the hot drink. The butter mixture can be prepared in advance and frozen until needed.

In a large bowl combine the softened unsalted butter, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.

In a mug or heat-proof glass, add 2 ounces of rum and 6 ounces of hot water. Top with 2 tablespoons spiced butter mixture and stir to combine.

Watch: How to Make a Winter on the Frontier Hot Toddy with Bulleit

Hot Buttered Rum 

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 0 minutes

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz dark rum
  • 24 oz hot water
  • cinnamon stick for garnish

Instructions

In a large bowl combine the softened unsalted butter, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.

In a mug or heat-proof glass, add 2 ounces of rum and 6 ounces hot water. Top with 2 tablespoons spiced butter mixture and stir to combine.