What could be more comforting on a chilly winter night that some warm rum and spices with a big dollup of butter? The holiday season would not be complete without a traditional Hot Buttered Rum.
Like the milk punch, Hot Buttered Rum is a seasonal classic that dates back to Colonial times. According to the American Heritage Cookbook, the drink even “found its way into domestic politics.” Candidates would ply their constituents with it to influence their vote. If only today’s politicians would try this method instead of the usual dirty politics.
Drinks using the key ingredients – rum, butter and hot water – were documented during the early days of mixology in cocktial pioneer Jerry Thomas’ mid-19th century bar guides as Hot Rum and Hot Spiced Rum. The Mai-Kai’s version is not very different than the traditional Hot Buttered Rum and was no doubt influenced by Don the Beachcomber’s early Tiki classic.
The official menu description
HOT BUTTERED RUM
A traditional island favorite on cool and stormy nights.
Okole Maluna Society review and rating
Potency: After dinner
Flavor profile: Butter, rum, cinnamon, slight bitter orange notes.
Review: Buttery, creamy and comforting with a touch of gold rum.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (see how it ranks)
Ancestry: Another drink dating back to the original 1956 menu, the Hot Buttered Rum was a staple at many other mid-century Polynesian restaurants. Like most of the other cocktails from this era, it’s likely The Mai-Kai’s own take on a Don the Beachcomber classic.
Bilge: The specially designed mug, which can be found in the restaurant’s gift shop, is a favorite of Mai-Kai owner Mireille Thornton, whose late husband Bob Thornton built and openened the restaurant with his brother Jack in 1956. Mrs. Thornton continues to oversee the authentic Polynesian stage show that she helped create some 50 years ago.
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Tribute to the Mai-Kai’s Hot Buttered Rum
Adapted from the traditional recipe by The Atomic Grog
* 1 1/2 ounces Appleton Special gold Jamaican rum
* 1 tablespoon rich cinnamon syrup
* 3-4 dashes pimento liqueur
* 1 teaspoon honey
* Zest of one small orange
* Hot water
* 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet unsalted butter
Add the first five ingredients to a warm a coffee mug, then fill with hot water. Add the butter and stir until completely melted. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Notes and tips for home mixologists
* If you’re looking for a stronger and more flavorful rum, simply upgrade to Appleton Estate Extra aged rum.
* Make sure you use a very rich cinnamon syrup, such as the B.G. Reynolds brand. The cinnamon needs to stand out.
* Pimento liqueur, a great Jamaican staple made from allspice berries, gives the drink a little extra kick. A half a teaspoon of ground allspice would also work.
A great drink for those cold nights up north, Hot Buttered Rum is just as enjoyable in your favorite tropical paradise.