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Here’s how to make hot buttered rum! This cozy spiked drink is great for chilly fall evenings or as a cocktail for holiday season.

Hot buttered rum
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Here’s a drink that’s ideal for sipping by the fire on a chilly evening: Hot Buttered Rum! Even just saying the name makes you warm inside. This historic drink has been around for centuries. Modern takes on it get a little wacky, so we’ve gone back to its roots to bring you the “real” way to make it. This version is subtly sweet, cozy-spiced with cinnamon and allspice, and spirit-forward with boozy dark rum. Oh: and there’s just enough butter to make it lightly creamy. It’s enough to warm your toes…and your soul.

What’s hot buttered rum?

Hot buttered rum is a drink of dark rum, hot water or cider, butter, sugar, and spices. It’s been around since approximately the 1650’s, when rum distilleries opened in New England and colonists started adding rum to drinks and punches. This is around the time drinks like the hot toddy, milk punch, and eggnog came to be. Each family would have their own “house” version of this warming drink.

How buttered rum batter

How to make hot buttered rum

The concept behind hot buttered rum is to make a “hot buttered rum batter.” The batter features butter, sugar and spices. Each drink has a dollop of the batter along with rum and hot water. Our take on the recipe stays true to the historical version: there’s just enough butter and sugar to make it lightly sweet and creamy: but it’s not like a milkshake. The ingredients in hot buttered rum are:

  • Salted butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
  • Dark rum
  • Boiling water

Modern hot buttered rum recipes have more sugar than the colonial recipe, when sugar was a luxury! Some use apple cider instead of hot water. Other recipes include vanilla ice cream in the batter, which adds creaminess but also lots of calories and more sugar. Over here, we prefer it truer to the original: less like a milkshake, more like a sweeter version of a hot toddy.

Random fact: January 17 is national hot buttered rum day. Who knew!

Hot buttered rum

Sweeten it up if you like

Do you love sweet drinks? If you’d prefer a version of hot buttered rum that’s ultra sweet for holiday parties and entertaining, it’s easy to tweak. Here are a few options:

Hot buttered rum

Dark rum vs light rum

Make sure to use a great dark rum for hot buttered rum: the white or light variety does not work as a substitute! Light rum is used for tropical drinks like daiquiris and piña coladas. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two liquors:

  • Dark rum is aged longer than white rum. It has a dark color and a rich, developed flavor with caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla notes. Dark rum is what colonists would have had on hand to make buttered rum.
  • Light rum or white rum is clear and has a smoother, sweeter flavor than dark rum.

More dark rum cocktails

Want more drinks with dark rum? Here are a few rum cocktail ideas for how to use up a bottle:

Hot buttered rum

When to serve hot buttered rum

This hot alcoholic drink is great for parties, the holiday season, and for chilly evenings! Serve it as a:

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Hot buttered rum

Classic Hot Buttered Rum

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 drinks 1x


Here’s how to make hot buttered rum! This cozy spiked drink is great for chilly fall evenings or as a cocktail for holiday season.



For the spiced butter (4 drinks; multiply as desired)

  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice

For each drink

  • 1 ½ tablespoons spiced butter
  • 2 ounces rum
  • 6 ounces boiling water*


  1. Make the spiced butter: Roll the butter with a rolling pin until it is flattened. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Use a spatula the butter together with the sugar and spices until everything is incorporated. Use immediately or refrigerate until making the drinks. 
  2. To make the drinks: Add 1 ½ tablespoons of the spiced butter to each glass. Add rum and boiling water and stir until combined. If you like a sweeter drink, top with whipped cream.


*Some recipes use apple cider for a sweeter spin. We prefer drinks that are lightly sweet and boiling water is most traditional.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

More cozy drinks

Looking for more cozy drinks like this one? Some of our favorite warming drinks for the season are:

  • Mulled Wine Simmer red wine with orange zest, cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice and honey.  It’s a crowd pleaser! Or make it into a cocktail with Spiked Apple Cider.
  • Hot Apple Cider Easy and makes your kitchen smell amazing.
  • Apple Cider Sangria This cozy sangria pairs sparkling apple cider with red wine, orange and cinnamon. In a word: wow.
  • Milk Punch Another historic cocktail! It’s served cold, but the spices are delightfully cozy. It features brandy, bourbon, milk and sugar. 

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Ben Miller says:

    Thanks for your HBR recipe. FYI, Pussers Admiralty or Mount Gay rums. Tastes acquired during my US Naval Career.

    I noticed that several of your photos show Star Anise afloat in toddies. However, your text is silent.

    I’m interested in uncovering the mystery.

    BK Miller Jr
    LCDR. USN. Retired

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Haha! We like the little bit of anise, but it certainly isn’t required :)

  2. Sydney Bardonski says:

    My husband and I substitute cinnamon whiskey for the rum. This makes a great delicious warm drink when you’re camping, hunting or just sitting around a campfire in the Winter.

  3. shauna womack says:

    How long will the mix hold in the refrigerator?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      It should last a week!

  4. Elizabeth Rostan says:

    This recipe is absolutely so amazing, but so simple to cream together just a few ingredients to make! I made a hot buttered rum recipe a few years ago and it didn’t turn out so great. This combination of spices, butter, rum and hot water is just perfect! Thank you for sharing! :)

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!