I love a hot drink in the winter. Not just the drink itself, but the anticipation of it as you trudge home in the cold, that first sip sending warmth flooding through your chest. Breathing in the steam, letting the spices and alcohol tickle your nose, even as your fingers are still stiff with cold. When I lived in Prague, a plastic cup filled to the brim with sweet mulled wine from the closest street vendor was a much-anticipated afternoon ritual, with a sleeve full of candied almonds in the other hand when I was feeling indulgent. As we get into the holiday season, with Thanksgiving right around the corner and Christmas following close behind, I want to share a few of my favorite seasonal drinks to help you get in the spirit, whether you’re cozying up to the fire with a good book or throwing the season’s best party.
A little while back I reviewed a cookbook called Winter Cocktails, and I mentioned that the recipe we’ve been enjoying the most is Burnt-Sugar Hot Buttered Rum. We tried it a day or two after we received the book, and liked it so much that we whipped up a few big batches for our Halloween party a few weeks later. So far, everyone who has tried it has wanted seconds. It’s made by creating a dark amber caramel, adding a few cups of water to make a thin syrup, and then serving the hot, sweet syrup with an equal part rum and a pat of vanilla-butter melting into the top. It’s rich and over the top and a surefire way to get toasty fast, in both senses of the word. Give it a try the next time you’re feeling chilled.
Burnt-Sugar Hot Buttered Rum
Recipe adapted slightly from Winter Cocktails. Serves 6.
Note: We like to make these strong, with almost equal volumes of syrup and rum. Start with 1.5 oz of rum per glass, and taste as you go to find the ratio that works for you.
- 2 TBS softened salted butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp dark brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. + 3 c. water, divided
- 9 to 12 oz. dark rum
- Stir together the softened butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside
- Stir together the sugar and 1/4 c. water in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until mixture turns dark amber and just begins to smoke. Carefully add the 3 cups of water – the caramel will bubble violently and seize, so be prepared to stand back. Reduce heat to medium and stir until mixture is smooth. Add 1/2 c. of the hot syrup to each of 6 heatproof glasses, along with 1.5 to 2 oz. dark rum. Add 1 tsp of the vanilla butter to the top of each drink. Serve hot.