The Art Of The Cocktail Part Five: Hot Buttered Rum

Demon rum. The original spirit consumed widely across North America and the Western Hemisphere. While today, bourbon is considered the quintessential liquor of the United States, it wasn’t in the too far distant past that rum held that honor.

There existed no greater advocate of rum than Charles William Taussig, the president of American Molasses Company and adviser to FDR. “There is in the sweet aromatic redolence of old rum, a mystic charm, a soft soothing fragrance that beguiles one into forgetting its more sinister and vicious history.” Of course, Taussig had a vested interest as his molasses company gained serious profits from the rum industry.

The “sinister and vicious” part arose from the triangular industries of sugar, molasses and the slave trade. The original American colonies purchased molasses which New England rum companies used to distill into spirits,  the rum {what the colonists didn’t drink} went to Africa and slaves were shipped to the Caribbean-to harvest the sugar so the cycle could start all over again.

Demon rum.

How big was the rum trade in that era? Boston alone produced more than a million gallons of rum per year by the 1730s. Bear in mind that the population of the city at that time was some 13,000 people.

Onerous taxes on molasses and rum exported from the Caribbean to the American colonies eventually contributed to the American Revolution. Colonialists of the era grew ever more weary of the British raising taxes on necessities {rum} til the discontent was distilled into “the shot heard round the world” on April 19th 1775. 7 years later the world saw the birth of the United States of America.

Demon rum.

On to the modern era. Hereabouts in  Texas we’re seeing something of a renaissance in rum distillation. In Pflugerville,  Daniel Barnes of Treaty Oak is producing a Texas-grown molasses-based rum, while Spirit of Texas in the same city is putting out a raw molasses-based, pecan-infused liquor. Down on the Gulf in San Leon, Kelly Railean of Railean Distillers is putting out 3 distinct rums using unsulphured molasses. And down in Wimberly, Cypress Creek Crystal Rum is being produced to good effect with owner David Watson bringing home a gold medal from a San Francisco rum competition last year.

I love rum. It was one of the first liquors I ever explored and it took on new meaning when I first began traveling to New Orleans where the spirit holds a special place in the city’s history. There are dozens of fine recipes for rum drinks but when Austin got its first blast of cold weather last week I started daydreaming about Hot Buttered Rum. It’s somewhat like a toddy in that it’s served hot and is sweet and boozy. It’s also a perfect tonic for a cold evening. Enjoy.


Hot Buttered Rum recipe

3 t. Sugar, turbinado

1/4  c. Water, hot

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

2 oz. rum

1 t. orange zest and a nice pat of cow’s butter

hot water


* Dissolve sugar in hot water

* Add cloves, cinnamon stick and rum

* stir thoroughly

* add enough hot water to fill the glass

* garnish with orange zest and pat of butter

Cheers Y’all.









About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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