Butter Up for National Hot Buttered Rum Day

Delicious warm rumminess at The Varnish/Photo: LA & OC Foodventures
Delicious warm rumminess at The Varnish/Photo: LA & OC Foodventures   

Hot buttered rum doesn't exactly scream Southern California, but we certainly don't have a shortage of the sweet buttery drinks around L.A. The cocktail dates back to colonial times when cold New Englanders added nips to toddies and nogs to take the chill off of cold winter nights, and the recipe hasn't evolved much over time -- it's basically rum, butter, sugar and hot water. Some believe it's so delicious, it deserves its own national holiday. And that just happens to be today.

We may not get blustery winter weather, but we do get chilly on those 60 degree days and 40 degree nights. Really, we'd find any excuse to sip a hot buttered rum. Here's where to find the best around town.

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The drink is legendary at Koreatown's HMS Bounty, and it's a seasonal specialty at Tiki Ti in Los Feliz (unfortunately only served once a year, usually in December). Bartendrix Margo Tyler adds caramel sauce to the steamy drink at Jar Restaurant, which gives it a deeper sweetness. It's not very Mediterranean, but the Grog at Mezze in West Hollywood starts as a basic hot buttered rum, plus apple cider, vanilla, cinnamon and clove, and a topping of pistachio froth. If that's too fancy, cozy up for the straightforward one at Bar 1886 at The Raymond in Pasadena.

At home, you can skip steps by using Trader Vic's gooey pre-made batter, which makes a damn fine drink (find it at BevMo or Von's). It's the same mix used for hot buttered rums at Trader Vic's at L.A. Live or the Beverly Hilton, but those just don't taste as good as they did in the original dark bar.

At The Varnish, the speakeasy in the back of Cole's, the hot buttered rum has garnered praise since the bar opened in 2009. "NYC natives like myself miss the east coast chill that gives us a solid excuse to cozy up with a toddy, Irish coffee or hot buttered rum," says bartender and co-owner Eric Alperin. That's why you can find his near-perfect one 365 days a year.

There, the bartenders steam the ingredients with an espresso wand; at home, you can just add hot water. Here's the recipe:

Hot Buttered Rum
Makes one drink
Recipe from Eric Alperin, The Varnish

2 ounces Brugal añejo rum
½ ounce butter
¾ ounce of honey syrup (three parts water, one part honey)
Hot water
Fresh nutmeg

In an Irish coffee mug, add the rum, butter and honey. Fill halfway with hot water and stir ingredients until the butter melts, then top off with second half of hot water. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

[Photo credit: LA & OC Foodventures]

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