Hot Buttered Rum – Colonial Recipe & History

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Hot Buttered Rum

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






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Learn how to make a Hot Buttered Rum.


  • 2/3 oz 20 g Spiced Butter Batter

  • 2 oz 60 ml Gold Rum

  • 6 oz 180 ml Hot Water


  • Technique: Build In Glass
  • Drop spiced butter batter into a ceramic or heat-resistant mug.
  • Add hot water and stir till the butter is completely melted and incorporated into the water.
  • Lastly add the rum and give a couple last stirs to finish mixing the drink.


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The History Of Hot Buttered Rum.

Adding butter to hot drinks was not new during colonial America. Butterbeer dates back to the 16th century, but hot buttered rum was an early American twist on this type of drink. In the Americas, rum and molasses were plentiful and reasonably cheap because of their proximity to the Caribbean. Rum was the first real spirit of the Americas, not whiskey. I looked high and low, but I could not find a hot buttered rum-like recipe till the 1860s with Jerry Thomas’s book. I scanned drink and food recipe books and eventually started looking for any historical book older than 1860 that might have a recipe or at least mention a hot buttered rum. Books would mention it but did not provide any form of a recipe. Trust me; I put more effort into this cocktail than any reasonable person should. I did find a mention of it in the 1826 edition of the Pennsylvanian Historical society. I mentioned how it is common for “good women” to have hot buttered rum, wines, and cordial water served to guests at birthing. And if the baby is unwell or fretful, a dose of spirit, water, and spices could help too. I found an 1855 British book called the Practical housewife, which gave a very similar recipe to the one provided but called the drink a buttered toddy. A book from 1830 named “Three Courses and a Dessert” mentions the hot butter rum and says how it’s a terrible meaty drink. I found this referred to as a buttered toddy a couple of times, but not much, the much more common name was still hot buttered rum.

Lord knows I tried, but the earliest I could find this drink mentioned was in the 1826 Pennsylvanian Historical society. The titles of most books that mention hot buttered rums were like the domestic such and such, housewife so and so, or friendly neighbor such and such. They all revolved around the house and made no mention of going out to a tavern, which made me think this was a homemade cocktail. This ultimately means its history is a bit muddy, and there is no single canon recipe, so take this recipe, modify it, and make it your own have fun.

What Does Hot Buttered Rum Taste Like?

This is a fantastic drink spiced well with great texture and flavor. The butter doesn’t come across as heavy or greasy. It adds a nice creamy mouthfeel similar to gum syrup, egg whites, or a full-bodied wine. This drink is not weak either. You can feel the warm rum but the light creamy butter and pumpkin pie spices make it pleasant and not too strong. When I was younger, I used to think of this drink as more of an overly sweet, almost milkshake-like, but it doesn’t have to be. And again, since there is no authentic single canon recipe for this, the recipe I have here is an amalgamation of older recipes I liked. The sweetness and spice toned down a bit with more rum. The 2 ounces of rum helps keep the drink from feeling flat, and the sugar and spice level makes it, so the drink tastes like a cocktail and not a dessert. The hot buttered rum batter is great on anything. I sometimes add it to coffee, on toast, biscuits, pancakes, etc. Add a little more sugar, spice, or butter if you feel the drink needs it. Here is the recipe for the batter, but feel free to check out my article on Spiced Butter Batter.

Spiced Butter Batter Recipe.

  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Clove
  • 1/4 tsp (1.5 g) Ground Allspice (or 1/2 tbs: Allspice dram)
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 g) Vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) Unsalted butter
  1. On low heat or using a double boiler, melt the butter and turn off the heat. Don’t cook and separate the butter. Only melt the butter.
  2. Next, add all the other ingredients to the melted butter.
  3. Stir till the brown sugar has thoroughly mixed in. Cover spiced butter batter and refrigerate.

This recipe will make about a cup (240 grams) of spiced butter batter mix, about 12 drinks. This is good on biscuits, too, and my kids love this spread on toast.

Recipe Resources

Tools Used:

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One response to “Hot Buttered Rum – Colonial Recipe & History”

  1. […] this is my own take on a buttered beer. I wanted to make this as a hot buttered beer version of a 18th century style Hot Buttered Rum. I changed the butter part to use the hot buttered rum’s spiced butter batter instead of the […]

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