Rum cocktails — mojitos, daiquiris, mai tais — aren't often associated with the winter season. Instead, rum drinks usually inspire visions of sitting poolside, sipping on a Blue Hawaii, or sultry nights in New Orleans with a fruity hurricane in hand. But like whiskey, rum can also be an excellent addition to colder weather beverages. Made from fermented sugarcane, rum's sweetness makes it a fitting liquor to imbibe during the holiday season. Darker rums especially, with their caramel flavoring, pair well with seasonal spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon.
"Rum is in many respects a perfect winter spirit," says Martin Cate, owner of San Francisco's popular cocktail bar Smuggler's Cove, which sells over 200 types of rum. "Beautiful aged rums make a great substitute in drinks like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, while Tiki Cocktails already use wintry baking spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice, giving the drink a wintry feel. And of course there's hot buttered rum. We sell an awful lot of hot buttered rum, and we might actually sell more in June than in winter because when fog comes over the bar, it gets nice and chilly. Any time is great for rum, really. Even if you just wanna get to the tropics; it's a wonderful escape from the blues."
Beyond the classic hot buttered rum and hot toddy rum, here are three recipes for winter-weather rum drinks that’ll keep you warm while also satisfying your sweet tooth.
Here's a cocktail you'll never feel guilty about drinking. From Maria del Mar Sacasa's Winter Cocktails comes this version of the rompope, a derivation of Spanish ponche de huevo, or, "egg punch." The rompope was originally brewed by seventeenth-century nuns in the Santa Clara convent in Puebla, Mexico, and — at least according to legend — was the only drink these nuns were allowed to brew.
Rompope is usually served chilled, but it can also be brewed warm, which is how del Mar Sacasa prefers it during the colder season.
- ½ cup blanched almonds
- 1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Rind of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 cup white rum
- Pulse almonds with 2 tbsp of the sugar in a food processor until ground to a fine paste.
- Bring milk, cinnamon, lemon rind, vanilla, and baking soda to a boil in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, the remaining sugar, and ground almonds until thick and pale. Remove cinnamon and lemon rind and discard. Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk to the yolk mixture.
- Return mixture to pan and cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5–7 minutes. Set aside to cool completely, about 2 hours.
- Stir in rum and serve.
Here is a new spin on the rum cocktail: instead of a punch-based drink, why not have your sugar quotient come from cinnamon and vanilla? Darcy O’Neil from Art of Drink calls this a "Kickstart Cocktail," which will keep you both cozy and awake.
- ½ oz vanilla liqueur
- 1 oz cold coffee
- 1 tsp cinnamon syrup
- 1 tsp simple syrup
- 1 ¼ oz rum
- Brew a strong pot of coffee and allow time for it to cool before making the cocktail.
- Stir and strain all ingredients into cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Hot Rum Cow
Once featured at Belfast's Merchant Hotel cocktail bar book, the Hot Rum Cow is a cuddly drink that will keep you warm into the night. A cousin of the Hot Rum Toddy, the Cow is (as the name suggests) uses milk instead of water or tea. Try it for a nightcap this season.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 drops vanilla extract
- 1 drop aromatic cocktail bitters
- Freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon to garnish
- 1½ oz rum
- Stir milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, bitters, and rum.
- Just before boiling, transfer the liquid into a warmed mug and garnish with nutmeg or cinnamon.