Mai-Kai cocktail review: Hot Buttered Rum is a heart-warming winter classic

See below: Our Hot Buttered Rum review | Tribute recipe
Related: Mai-Kai cocktail guide

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.

From The Mai-Kai's 1957 menu.

From The Mai-Kai's 1957 menu.

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

Hot Buttered Rum, December 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Hot Buttered Rum, December 2011. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Size: Medium

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.

Agree or disagree? Share your reviews and comments below!


Tribute to the Mai-Kai’s Hot Buttered Rum
Adapted from the traditional recipe by The Atomic Grog

Hot Buttered Rum by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, December 2011

Hot Buttered Rum by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, December 2011

* 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.

Okole maluna!

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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2 Responses to Mai-Kai cocktail review: Hot Buttered Rum is a heart-warming winter classic

  1. Arriano says:

    From the list of ingredients, I would guess that the Don the Beachcomber version used the Pearl Diver Mix as its batter for this cocktail.

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