Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer
Listen to me on WBZ radio talk about Hot Buttered Rum!Connoisseur Corner WBZ Brandy Rand-Buttered Rum
A Colonial favorite adapted to a crowd-pleasing winter cocktail.
Molasses trade from the British West Indies to colonial New England created the second most important manufacturing industry after shipbuilding – distilling rum. By 1750, Boston alone had around 25 distilleries producing several hundred thousand gallons of rum annually. At the time, rum was a bit harsher than we’re used to drinking these days, so people used to mix it with other liquids (water, beer, cider) and spices to make it more palatable.
Thus came about toddies, grogs, nogs and a specific concoction suited to the cold, harsh winters called Hot Buttered Rum. Several recipes exist, but all contain butter, rum, brown sugar, boiling water and spices. The best use dark, aged rums with a deep caramel flavor, and use a pre-made butter batter to allow the flavors to mingle.
This seafaring drink is best enjoyed in historic Marblehead, where the Landing (81 Front St., 781-639-1266, thelandingrestaurant.com) serves up “The Grogger” -hot buttered rum and three Joe Frogger cookies, also made with a little rum. These cookies date back to colonial times to a tavern on Gingerbread Hill in Marblehead run by a man they called Old Black Joe Brown. Fisherman used to take barrels of Joe Frogger cookies with them since they kept well on long journeys.
Hot buttered rum is best enjoyed in front of a fire or by candlelight on a snowy day. It’s also a perfect party pleaser for the holidays. Try these recipes:
1 Tablespoon softened, unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 pinch each allspice, ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg
2 ounces dark rum
2-3 ounces boiling water
Cream together butter, sugar and spices in a mug. Add rum and boiling water and stir well to combine. Garnish with cinnamon stick.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 750ml bottle dark rum
Cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs. Pour 2-3 ounces of rum into each mug and fill rest with boiling water. Stir well and garnish with cinnamon stick or lemon slice if desired.
Joe Frogger Cookies
Recipe from Marblehead.org
3½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup molasses
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/3 cup hot water
Mix flour, salt, ginger, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and allspice in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat together the molasses, shortening and brown sugar. Combine the hot water and rum. Add the dry ingredients and the water/rum mixture alternately to the sugar/molasses mixture. (If the dough is dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.) Roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper until ¼ inch thick. Refrigerate at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets. Cut the dough into 3-inch cookies with a cookie cutter. (The original Joe Froggers were much larger. For the traditional size, use a coffee can.) Place on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. (Longer for the traditional size.) The cookies are baked when they are dark around the edges and firm in the centers. Set the cookie sheets on a rack to cool for five minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely.