The Original Hot Buttered Rum Recipe | Wine Enthusiast
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The Original Hot Buttered Rum Recipe

Winter can be an endless, freezing drag. Luckily, nothing helps melt through seasonal malaise like a cocktail classic: hot buttered rum. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What Is Hot Buttered Rum?

Originally intended for medicinal purposes, this colonial-era drink is steaming mixture of rum, butter, sugar, spices and hot water. “One early recipe called for ‘butter the size of a black walnut’ and ‘maple sugar the size of a large hickory nut,’ mixed with boiling water, rum and ‘nutmeg for the ladies,'” shares spirits writer Wayne Curtis in The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails. Other common add-ons include spices like cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

What Does Hot Buttered Rum Taste Like?

If you’re weirded out by the notion of drinking butter—understandably!—let us put your mind at ease. The requisite butter in hot buttered rum gives the sipper a velvety richness and noted depth, while sugar (we prefer molasses-forward brown sugar) lends a rounded sweetness. Meanwhile, various spices and aged rum contribute additional layers of complexity and aromatics.

What Are Some Riffs on Hot Buttered Rum?

This hearty, warming drink is pure cocktail comfort food. Have a favorite wintry ingredient? Try adding it to the mix. Vanilla extract brings a delicious depth to the drink—it’s featured in our recipe below—but substituting sarsaparilla or ginger will yield a completely different (and delightful) flavor profile. Endlessly customizable, we encourage you to use this base recipe as a springboard to cocktail creativity.

What Are the Best Rums for Hot Buttered Rum?

Hot buttered rum is also a great excuse to use some of those liqueurs gathering dust on your bar cart. If you’ve still got that bottle of Drambuie or Galliano that’s been taking up space in your liquor cabinet since 1983, this is your opportunity to throw in a splash and put them to work. Need more suggestions? Our list of the best rums for cocktails or sipping straight is a great place to start.

Thirsty yet? Let’s get mixing.

How to Make Hot Buttered Rum


1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of salt
2 ounces dark or aged rum
6 ounces hot water
Cinnamon stick, for garnish (optional)


In mixing bowl, combine butter, vanilla extract, sugar, spices and salt. Beat until well combined.

In heat-proof glass or mug, combine aged rum with 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) spiced butter mixture. Remaining batter can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for future use.

Top with hot water and stir until ingredients are well incorporated. Garnish with cinnamon stick if preferred.

This article was updated on December 1, 2022.

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