Buttered Yum: 6 spirits to butter besides rum

photo credit: Corey Bunnewith

My story for Wine Enthusiast online is up this week, celebrating Hot Buttered Rum Day on January 17. (Don’t you just love these “holidays”?)  As usual, there was a lot more than could possibly be squeezed into the article.  For example, I learned you can “butter” spirits beyond just rum. For example:

1. Hot Buttered Rye – this was on the menu at Rye in San Francisco, and regularly sold out. UPDATED:  also available at Rye in Williamsburg.

2. Hot Buttered Tequila – in addition to the “Hot Buttered Toddy” that ran in the WE piece, Camper English also takes on Hot Buttered Anejo (aged tequila) in Fine Cooking magazine.

3. Hot Buttered Bourbon – hat tip to Bon Appetit, circa…1999? wow. Practically retro!

4. Hot Buttered Scotch – Also in the whiskey category, photography and cocktal maven Kathryn Yu reports that Peels has hot buttered Scotch on offer.

In other words, butter can be added to pretty much any dark spirit (brandy, applejack, Scotch…) to create a Hot Buttered Whatever. But wait – not just dark spirits:

5. Hot Buttered Cachaca – when he was at Coppa, this was a specialty of Boston bar wizard Corey Bunnewith. Of course, he was getting all pastry chef on this drink, creating a brown butter noisette to fat-wash the cachaca, and adding Maldon sea salt, maple syrup, and a final dollop of compound butter sourced from a local dairy, seasoned with nutmeg and vanilla, and aerated in an ice-cream maker.

6. Hot Buttered Pisco – also courtesy of Kathryn Yu, who spotted this on PDT’s cocktail list last year.

Other random Hot Buttered Stuff I was unable to cram into the article:

–Cold Buttered Rum – as made by Todd Thrasher at Restaurant PX in Alexandria, VA.

–Buttered rum variations made with compound butters – mmmm. Craft (NY) was selling a spiced rum with compound butter one evening I passed through (they were making their own spiced rum, by the way), and we have Bunnewith’s compound butter above.

–And finally, a labor-intensive but delicious-sounding Hot Buttered Rum recipe from The Tipsy Parson, which was just too dang long to include in the WE piece, but sounds so delightful and-over-the-top that I just couldn’t quite let go just yet. Seriously – lots of buttered rum recipes begin by making a labor-intensive batter. This one begins with a creme anglaise – and then a batter too! This is an advanced-level buttered rum.  So here it is:

Hot Buttered Rum 

By Tasha Garcia Gibson of The Tipsy Parson, New York

Despite the somewhat labor-intensive batter, Garcia Gibson says the batter can be made ahead of time and frozen in ice cube trays. After, that, it’s simply a matter of adding hot water:  “at this point, it doesn’t dirty a pan.”

However, a word of caution:  When making this batter, you won’t be alone in the kitchen for long. Garcia Gibson says that when it’s time to make the batter, the staff quickly gather around, spoons in hand:  “Everyone turns into children wanting to put their spoon in the bowl!”

Step 1:  Make the Crème Anglaise

  • 3 cups heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature

Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.

In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.

In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.  Yields 1 quart.

Step 2:  Make the Batter

  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 pound light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 quart crème anglais

Cream butter and sugars together in kitchen aid until smooth. Add crème anglais and mix until creamy. Mixture may be poured into ice cube trays and frozen in individual serving sizes or used fresh.

Step 3:  Make the Drink! 

  • 2 Tablespoons (1 “ice cube”) of batter
  • Boiling water
  • 1 ¼ ounces spiced rum
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish

Place the batter cube in the bottom of a footed mug. Add 1 oz of boiling water and stir until the mixture is melted. Add the rum, and top with more boiling water. Stir until the mixture is melted. Sprinkle top with freshly grated nutmeg and serve.

For the perfect Gin & Tonic, just add…spice?

Is this the "ultimate" G&T?

So I’ve survived Snowpocalypse 2010. There’s still two feet of snow on the ground, and I plan to distract myself from the big dig-out with a warm-weather drink:  a cool, crisp gin and tonic.

Not long ago, a distiller confided to me his recipe for a “perfect gin & tonic.” Sure, it features his gin…but still, I love meeting (and drinking with) distillers. They tend to be intelligent people (often with advanced degrees in engineering or chemistry) and passionate about what they do and what they drink.

So when a distiller makes a cocktail suggestion, I listen.

The distiller in question was Alexandre Gabriel, president of Cognac Ferrand. I’ll spare you the details of our interview, but it’s important to note that his portfolio includes rum (finished in Cognac casks, natch) and Citadelle gin.

Gabriel mentioned that Spain is the number one market for Citadelle, and as a result he travels there frequently.

Only Spain knows how to make a gin and tonic,” he insisted. “They use a big glass, like a tumbler or a Riedel burgundy glass. They use a full mini bottle (about 1.6 ounces) and then the full bottle of tonic, so the proportions are correct. And lots of good ice, so it refreshes the drink but doesn’t dilute it down. They add lemon, lime, or around Christmas they add a little cinnamon, anise, or nutmeg.”

Say WHAT? To me, a G&T is served in a tall glass, maybe a squeeze of lime, and that’s it. But…nutmeg?

“Oh yes,” Gabriel assured. Further, he continued, in Madrid, there’s a restaurant named Padre, which brings around a G&T cart loaded with different gins (over 200 brand are available in Spain, according to Gabriel), and an array of spices for you to select for your drink. A good gin & tonic, Gabriel said, “should be like being in a garden of spice.”

The verdict:  It’s very good. Those who groove on the botanicals in gin will especially love the extra kick and aromatics that fresh spices add to the drink (note – skip the straw so your nose is all but immersed in the pretty fragrances). However, I’m not sure I’d describe this as the ultimate gin & tonic for me. I still prefer the long, tall, cool version.

That said — I can see the potential for adding fresh herbs and spices to G&T’s, Spanish style. I’m still dreaming about the cilantro-and-muddled-lime G&T I recently had at Bar Basque. (They don’t have a G&T cart, but they do have an intriguing G&T menu.)

Alexandre Gabriel’s Recipe for the Perfect Gin & Tonic

1.6 ounces Citadelle Gin

200 ml Fever Tree tonic

Lime or lemon skin (for just a little oil from the peel; not the full wedge)

Grated nutmeg, star anise, or cinnamon stick

In a large tumbler, stir together gin, tonic, and ice. Twist citrus peel over the drink and add to the glass. Garnish with spice and drink (no straw). And as per Gabriel, “Toast to the Spanish!”