My best friend and I had a forty year-old tradition of sharing hot buttered rum to celebrate the first “real” snowfall of the season…”real” meaning enough snow to track a cat across the lawn. Over the years, separated by geography at times, we’d chat by phone as we each sipped this warming drink if we couldn’t be together. Hot buttered rum brings back lovely memories.
The traditional recipe for hot buttered rum called for water, sugar, and rum which was heated by plunging a red-hot poker heated in the fireplace coals into the mug. As an herb lover, I developed an herbal version, which can have as many variations as one has flavorful plants in the herb garden to make herbal sugars and butters. Shown in the photo is one of my favorites, Rober’s Lemon Rose Scented geranium sugar & butter (floating in the mug, if you look closely you can see flecks of the scented geranium used to make the herbal butter.)
In a mug, dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon herbal sugar in ¾ c. hot water, stirring well. Stir in 2 oz. rum and 1 tsp. herbal butter, stirring until butter melts. Enjoy different combinations. Favorites are tarragon, anise hyssop, ginger scented geranium, lemon verbena, rose geranium, orange spice thyme, cinnamon basil, and pineapple sage. To make herbal sugars, simply place a layer of herb in a small plastic storage container. Add 1″ sugar followed by another layer of herb. Repeat until approximately 1″ from the top. Seal and set aside, shaking vigorously daily for at least three-seven days. Remove the leaves. Fresh herbs may cause the sugar to clump a bit and you’ll have to rub the sugar from the leaves, but afterwards toss them into a pot of tea to use every bit of goodness! Dried herbs can usually just be captured by pouring the sugar through a coarse strainer, and they can also be used in tea or added to pound cake batter. Return the sugar to the tightly capped storage container and store out of heat and direct sunlight until needed.
Herbal butters are made by simply adding finely chopped fresh herbs to softened butter, generally 1 T. per stick, depending upon the herb. Some are stronger than others. I like to chill the butter afterwards to facilitate cutting it into small squares, or to mold it into pretty, tiny shapes, and then freeze it. Simply drop a pretty herbal butter “heart” or “daisy” or whatever mold you have onto the hot rum.
Be SURE to label the sugars and the butters with the herbs used. A chive-flavored hot buttered rum is not very pleasant. I also don’t find the combination of anise-hyssop with lemon very compatible, but cinnamon basil and rose geranium together are lovely! This is one time when my favorite lime-scented geranium is not a selection, nor are lavender or the mints, although you may think differently! Experiment!