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Hot Buttered Rum

As the chilly winds start to blow and the holiday season approaches, there’s nothing quite like a warm, comforting drink to bring about that festive cheer. One such timeless classic that warms hearts and hands alike is Hot Buttered Rum. This  warm and boozy holiday drink has a long history and is a favorite in many parts of the world.

Cup of the drink on a table

Origins in the 17th Century

Hot buttered rum dates back to the 17th century when English sailors traveling to the Caribbean and East Indies grew fond of a local rum punch. They found that adding butter to the rum helped smooth out the drink’s harshness. When the sailors returned home to colder climates, they warmed up their buttered rum – and a new wintertime tradition was born!

Popularity in the American Colonies 

In the American colonies, hot buttered rum became hugely popular in the 1700s. The colonists sweetened their rum with molasses or honey and topped it with a pat of butter. The drink provided warmth and cheer during the cold New England winters. Hot buttered rum parties were common amongst the upper classes of American society. 

Over the years, Hot Buttered Rum has become a beloved beverage during the holiday season, particularly in North America and parts of Europe. It’s a go-to drink for Christmas gatherings, holiday parties, and cozy nights by the fireplace.

Classic Hot Buttered Rum Recipe


  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • A pinch of cloves
  • 4 ounces hot water
  • Cinnamon stick and whipped cream for garnish optional


  • In a heatproof mug, combine the dark rum, unsalted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Fill the mug with hot water and stir until the ingredients are well combined and the butter is melted.
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
  • Serve hot and enjoy the cozy warmth of the holiday season!
Hot buttered rum in a clear mug next to sprigs of ivy and cinnamon stick

Regional Variations 

While the basic ingredients of this drink remain consistent, recipes can vary across different regions and cultures.

 New England Style- The traditional New England version involves dark rum, unsalted butter, maple syrup or honey,  water, and a blend of baking spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. This creates a warm, smooth, and slightly sweet buttered rum ideal for sipping on a cold winter’s night.

Caribbean Inspired- Caribbean twists on hot buttered rum use ingredients like coconut milk, allspice, vanilla, brown sugar, and occasionally a float of 151-proof rum set aflame for an extra kick. The coconut milk makes this version extra creamy and tropical.

Southern Comfort

Down south, bourbon often stands in for rum. A spoonful of peach preserves adds a hint of fruitiness. Southerners may also fold in a bit of orange juice or lemon juice to brighten up the flavor.

Hot Buttered Rum is a delightful holiday beverage that warms both the body and the soul. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or trying it for the first time, these hints and tips will help you create the perfect cup of this classic drink.

Cup of the drink in a tall clear mug with 2 cinnamon sticks layibng vertically across rim of mug

 Hints and Tips for Perfecting Your Hot Buttered Rum

  • Quality Ingredients Matter-   Start with high-quality ingredients, especially when it comes to the rum. Opt for a good dark rum that has a rich and robust flavor, as it will greatly influence the taste of your Hot Buttered Rum.
  • Butter Wisely- Use unsalted, good-quality butter. It’s the key to that creamy, luscious texture.
  • Sweetness and Spice- Adjust the amount of brown sugar and spices to suit your taste. Some prefer a sweeter and spicier drink, while others like a milder flavor. Tailor it to your liking. 
  • Whipped Cream Toppings- When garnishing with whipped cream, sprinkle a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg on top. It not only adds visual appeal but also enhances the aroma and taste.
  • For a Festive Flair– Garnish with cinnamon sticks or orange slices.
  • Experiment with Variations- Feel free to get creative with different variations by adding a splash of vanilla extract, a spoonful of pumpkin puree, or even a shot of espresso for an intriguing twist.
  • Pre-Warm the Mug- Warm the mug or glass you’ll be using before preparing the drink. A warm vessel keeps the beverage hot longer and enhances the overall experience.
  • Dissolve Sugar Properly- Ensure the brown sugar is thoroughly dissolved by stirring the mixture well. This ensures even sweetness throughout the drink.
  • Serve in Festive Mugs- Serve Hot Buttered Rum in festive or holiday-themed mugs to enhance the seasonal ambiance and make the experience even more enjoyable.
  • Accompany with Holiday Treats- Pair Hot Buttered Rum with seasonal treats like gingerbread cookies, shortbread, or spiced nuts for a delightful and harmonious flavor combination.
A cup of hot buttered rum in a clear mug with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick on top

Hot Buttered Rum is the perfect beverage to sip by the fireplace, surrounded by loved ones, and basking in the magic of the Christmas season. Experiment with flavors and find your favorite version to make this winter even more special. Cheers to warm and joyful celebrations!

2 glasses of the beverage with whipped cream on top and sprinkles of cinnamon on a table with sprigs of fern

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