Drink of the Week: Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered RumButter…mmm…not the most common of classic cocktail ingredients but hot buttered rum is not your ordinary cocktail. A Christmastime favorite in many places, the history of today’s DOTW likely goes back as far as prior to the U.S. Revolutionary War, when New England was awash with rum due to the deeply unfestive Triangle Trade.

Now, I have to admit that, prior to this week, hot buttered rum existed to me only as an occasionally referenced warmer upper on 1970s sitcoms and 1950s rom-coms. The good news is that, I have to say, I’m sold on it. This version is simple and sweet and pretty surefire, though it’s definitely best if you can get it all down while it’s still hot.

One proviso: some ultra-purists may sniff at this recipe since it doesn’t call for you to heat this drink with, get this, a red hot poker removed directly from a fireplace. (I used a microwave.)

Hot Buttered Rum

2 ounces dark rum
2 teaspoons sugar, preferably dark brown or raw
5-7 ounces boiling water
1 pat of butter (unsalted or salted)
Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and/or cloves to taste

Put butter, sugar, and a dash or two of any or all of the suggested seasonings in mug, ideally pre-heated. Pour about 1-2 ounces of your boiling water in. Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar and spices have dissolved. Add two ounces of room temperature dark rum and top of with your remaining not-quite boiling but still extremely hot water.

Stir again and sip gingerly. It should be about the perfect temperature but better safe than sorry. Try not to spill any on your Snuggie.

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A couple of quick notes. Most recipes call for unsalted butter, but I was too lazy, cheap and hateful of waste to run to the store for a product I would never use for any other purpose. Salted butter worked fine, though I would stay away from any other obvious substitutions. (“Hot margarined rum”?) Also, most recipes say to add the butter last, but I found it melted easier my way and I still got a nice buttery coating on top.

As usual, there are an enormous number of ways to make hot buttered rum. A lot of recipes substitute super-hot apple cider for water, which I’m sure is pretty tasty but adds a lot of calories. Some versions throw ice cream into the mix, which just kind of blows my mind. Seriously, though, if you use a nice dark rum and dark brown sugar or raw sugar — both of which include molasses, the stuff they make rum out of — this drink should be plenty sweet.

Speaking of dark rum, you may find that with all the light, amber, and spiced varieties available, regular dark rum might be a bit harder to find in your price range than you’d think. BevMo here in California’s OC offered only two varieties of true dark rum. Myer’s Rum which was about $19.00 for a fifth and Whaler’s Original Rum, which was about half that price and turned out to be perfect for getting all hot and buttered.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Mojito

the mojito Yes, I’ve been putting it off. Forgive me, I know not why I waited. The Mojito might be the trendiest drink going right now and there are the usual cocktail abuses committed by misguided bars, but overall it’s the kind of booze trend that even a staunch cocktail classicist can support.

Like so many classic cocktails, this venerable Cuban creation is a sturdy drink — great in the hot, moistish weather we’re still kinda sorta having in Southern California — that can bear a number of variations and is actually quite easy to make. And, or so the Wikipedians tell us, it’s possibly a relatively ancient drink and was even approved of by the Cuba and daiquiri loving Ernest Hemingway. What other encouragement do you need?

The Mojito

2 ounces light rum
1/2 to 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice/wedges
1-3 teaspoons superfine sugar
2-5 sprigs of fresh mint
1-2 ounces (approx.) club soda or seltzer (sparkling water)

Combine lime juice and sugar — use more sugar to go with more lime juice or less to go with less — with mint in the bottle of an old fashioned glass or, perhaps, a smallish collins glass. Muddle enough to mix the sugar and juice and also lightly smash the mint leaves; they need not be pulverized. Add ice — very preferably crushed ice. Also add the spent lime wedges from your juicing. Stir vigorously with a swizzle stick or bar spoon — enough to melt some of the ice. Then, top off with a small amount of club soda or plain sparking water/seltzer and stir a bit more. It’s important to remember that last step. I know because I forgot a couple of times and wondered what was missing. Without just a dash of sparkle, a mojito fails to come alive.

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Though I provided a fair amount of flexibility above, there really are an enormous number of ways to skin the mojito cat and the ‘net provides no end of options. Even so, the simplest way I found was demonstrated by Rachel Maddow on a recent segment highlighted by this reasonable thought: “nuns deserve good drinks.” Her version was fairly similar to the way I make a caipirinha and involved less squeezing and measuring and definitely called for a wide-bottomed rocks glass on account of some heavy duty muddling. You basically just cut up a lime, throw in an entire tablespoon of sugar (!) and smash the heck out of it along with the mint leaves.

I found that version worked very nicely, but I was, to my own surprise, actually drawn more to the more squeezey/less smashy low lime juice and low sugar version promulgated by David Wondrich. If you keep the lime juice to 1/2 ounce, the natural sweetness of the rum and just one teaspoon of sugar is plenty to create a really full bodied refreshment. Still, the other ways are not one bit bad. There are doubtless many roads to mojito hell, most of them involving sour mix or who knows what other kinds of chemical monstrosities, but just as many paths to mojito enlightenment.

  

Drink of the Week: The Bacardi Cocktail

Bacardi CocktailIn many respects, I’m still just finding my way around the world of cocktails but one thing is now clear to me: you can’t really separate mixology and marketing. As with so many drinks, the precise history of our Labor Day weekend selection, the Bacardi cocktail, remains pretty much a complete mystery, but clearly the manufacturers and promoters of the best known brand of rum must have had some connection to the formulation of this simple and surprisingly delightful concoction, a pretty basic variation on the booze, tart citrus juice, and sweetener formulation of so many fine drinks.

The Bacardi cocktail is nevertheless a special case in the annals of alcohol marketing. In 1936, just three years after the repeal of prohibition, a lawsuit was brought and the New York Supreme Court actually ruled that this drink must be made with Bacardi rum or it’s not a Bacardi cocktail.

The Bacardi Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces of Bacardi light rum (use another brand at your own legal peril!!)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grenadine.
Maraschino cherry (extremely optional garnish)

Combine rum, lime juice, and grenadine in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously, and pour into our old friend, the chilled martini/cocktail glass. Do not be alarmed if the color is a bit more pinkish and cloudy than the picture above. It’s possible the photographer preferred his Bacardis stirred, not shaken. Regardless, throw in a chemically preserved cherry, if you like, and toast the New York State bar (sorry).

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Apparently back during the prohibition era, some cocktail classicists insisted that a “real” Bacardi Cocktail was made with sugar or simple syrup and not grenadine. I have no real argument with that except that, if you do that, then you basically have our last DOTW, the Daiquiri. I will say that I strongly recommend sticking to these proportions. A little bit of grenadine, it seems, goes a long way. I tried indulging my sweet tooth by using an entire teaspoon of grenadine per 1.5 ounces of rum, and the result was not at all pleasing. Even such a seemingly still small amount of the very sweet syrup created an unpleasantly saccharine drink. Some prefer to use a very small amount of sugar or simple syrup and just a tiny dash of grenadine for color. That might work as well.

Have a good holiday, everyone. Also, be safe on the roads. There are still some people out there who think they can imbibe whatever they like and get behind the wheel. Don’t be one of them.

  

Marisa Miller is a sexy pirate in Captain Morgan ad!

We were able to get a sneak peek at the trailer for Victoria’s Secret supermodel Marisa Miller’s newest commercial for Captain Morgan where she gets to play the role of a sexy pirate. The sexy spot will premiere next week and it chronicles Marisa’s newest job as Captain Morgan’s First Mate – where her duties include protecting the Captain’s legendary spiced rum and kicking a little ass along the way. It’s a fun video, and anything involving Marisa Miller is worth a look!

  

Beware of Russian Models!

As part of our cigar review for this week’s Happy Hour posts, we’re going to highlight some friendly advice from our cigar reviewer Bob Hritsko. He and his friends had an interesting experience recently when partying down in Miami, and the story is worth sharing again.

Like every spring for the last seven years, I make a pilgrimage to South Florida to visit my brother for a long weekend. We hit the beach, smoke too many cigars, drink way too many beers (vodkas, rums, etc.), but it serves to decompress me and rejuvenate the soul. Well, this year, I decided to invite some old friends, some that I grew up with and others who I have become good friends with in my adult years. The prep and logistics for pulling this off proved to be a little work, but it was something I truly enjoyed planning and — in the end — pulling off! There were eight of us who traveled to the Miami area, and we had a number of folks, who were already in the area, join us. Needless to say, we all reverted back to our college days and the attitude of those days, and just had a blast! As I have said before in this column, Miami is certainly a venue fitting for this type of event and it is my favorite “party” city, partially due to its relative cigar-friendly nature.

However, I must warn those of you who might consider doing this sort of thing next year, especially if you who don’t get around that much. In Miami, everything is not what it appears; I hope this is not a shocking revelation to most of you. If it is, you may want to take a spring break elsewhere. A phenomenon occurred this year that was new to me. One night, the whole group of us went out to one of the swankier bars in South Beach, a long-time favorite of mine. Not long after getting settled in, I sensed something a little unusual. A young, attractive 20-something woman smiled at me and would occasionally flash a glance my way, showing some clear interest. Twenty minutes later, the same thing happened – but a completely different girl this time. I had a few drinks in me already, (well, more than a few), but I knew that I wasn’t hallucinating. Now don’t get the wrong idea, for a 40-something guy I am no ogre (in my biased opinion). Back in the day, women who were in the same league as these two were fair game (naturally, before I got married), but all the booze in Miami was not going to get me to believe that these young ladies found my more “mature” looks that intriguing, especially with some of the younger gentlemen running around, who looked like they did nothing but hit the gym and tan on the beach all day.

Naturally, I had to share these events with the group. To my surprise, this same phenomenon was being experienced by a number of others in the group. My brother, a long-time resident of South Florida, shared his Miami wisdom: these “ladies” were likely Russian hookers looking for some “fat cats” with fat wallets to help drive some income for themselves in these tough economic times. It was now oh so clear to us, mostly guys with simple Midwestern roots. It was also a little humbling to learn the truth. But on the other hand it was also quite funny that we could be mistaken for “fat cats” loaded with money. In hindsight, there we were, in our new Tommy Bahama knock-off silk shirts, mine with a couple of seemingly expensive cigars tucked in the breast pocket, getting the VIP treatment due to the bottle service we opted for, because buying by the drink was determined to be more expensive. We did look and act like “fat cats” for one night, and we had some fun doing so.

With the vast majority us being classic family men, we would never consider buying what these girls were selling. In the end, the foolers were the ones who were fooled, although by accident. On the other hand, it made for some good conversation and laughs among the boys (which is all the fun we intended to buy on this trip anyway). So, enjoy an old-fashioned, college-like spring break next year. Dress the part, load your silk shirts with cigars, but be careful – don’t allow yourself to get fooled.

The advice is simple – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Also, you can always manipulate a situation in your favor, though it’s a little harder to pull off when you’re loaded on beer and vodka.

Check out the rest of Bob’s article for his review of Oliva Serie O – Maduro.

  

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