It’s all about that cocktail batter

By / Wine + Drinks / February 5th, 2020 / 17

As we settle into hibernation season, it is important to have provisions on hand for unexpected snow days, such as warm blankets, sweaters, socks and extra books. But most important of all is a big batch of cocktail batter in the fridge for “emergency” hot buttered rum.

Most people think batter is only good for cookies, cakes and fish and chips. But it is essential to certain classic winter drinks like the Tom and Jerry and (of course) hot buttered spirits. The key to giving these drinks a smooth consistency is a properly made batter.

“Many people think hot buttered rum is hot water, rum and butter mixed together with some spice,” says Justin Taylor, General Manager at the Cascade Room in Vancouver. “You can make it that way, but you won’t end up with a really good product or a balanced cocktail. I know many people who think they don’t like the drink, but I think either they’ve had a bad one or just can’t wrap their head around the idea.”

But Taylor’s changed quite a few minds with J.T.’s Hot Buttered Rum Mix, his signature butter batter. It became so popular that is now sold at the Cascade (seasonally, with partial proceeds going to the Fawkes Academy, a school for children with autism spectrum disorder). What started out as a home-made gift for friends and family soon took on a life of its own. Last year, he bottled and sold 1,000 jars.

Although unusual on the West Coast, hot buttered rum is a winter staple in Newfoundland, where Taylor grew up. “It actually comes from my grandmother,” he recalls. “When the Taylor family would get together, we’d all pile into her house and hot buttered rum was always going around. The kids would have it with hot water instead of rum. We also discovered you can put it anywhere: on your toast, pancakes and waffles.”

Although Taylor’s grandmother’s recipe is simple (butter, sugar, spice and salt), he encourages home bar chefs to get creative. “Its base is like a blank canvas,” Taylor explained. “You could use cardamom, put some chili in it, get vanilla involved.” Hot buttered rum also works brilliantly with any brown liquor, except spiced spirits, which are too sweet. “I think part of the reason for its comeback is that you can put own twist on it,” he said.

Hot Buttered Rum

2 oz dark rum (not spiced)
6 oz boiling water
1 tbsp compound butter*
1 cinnamon stick

Scoop compound butter into a pre-warmed coffee mug. Add boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add rum and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

*Compound Butter

1/4 lb unsalted butter, softened but not melted
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Divide mixture into sterilized mason jars. Seal with lid and keep refrigerated. Yields approximately 500 ml — enough for about 24 cocktails.

Cocktail batter hot buttered rum

Christine Sismondo is a National Magazine Award-Winning drinks columnist and the author of Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History as well as America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops.

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