Hot Buttered Rum With Orange and Vanilla

Orange and vanilla make this hot buttered rum recipe especially alluring. It's easy to make by the batch for a holiday party.

Hot Buttered Rum
Garrett McCord

Every winter, I'm surprised by how many people have never had a hot buttered rum. Traditional buttered rums are simply flavored with cinnamon and brown sugar. But I think the addition of orange zest and vanilla really make this cocktail stand out.

This is a classic American cocktail that dates back to colonial times, and it's as much a part of Christmas as eggnog or peppermint hot chocolate. More people need to know how good this cocktail can be!

To help spread the word, hot buttered rums have become my standard contribution to holiday parties and potlucks. I just make an extra large batch of spiced butter ahead of time, grab a bottle of dark rum, and off I go.

A glass mug of hot buttered rum garnished with a cinnamon stick
Garrett McCord

Hot Buttered Rum: A Party-Ready Drink

I get some water boiling as soon as I arrive, and a few minutes later, and the first butter-filled cups are ready. The room fills with the aroma of cinnamon, orange and vanilla.

It’s impossible to resist, and nearly everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe.

Of course, feel free to tinker with the recipe to create your own version! Lemon zest, cardamom, orange bitters, or even swapping out the rum for brandy or rye, are all fantastic alternatives.

Hot Buttered Rum With Orange and Vanilla

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 4 drinks

Good-quality dark rum really is key here. You don’t have to pay a lot of money for good bottle; just avoid anything in a plastic jug. (I find Mount Gay is a flavorful and affordable option.)

The compound butter will keep for several weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, and the flavors will only get more intense over time. I often make a large batch a few days in advance of a party so it’s at its most fragrant.

Scale this recipe up for larger crowds.


For the orange-vanilla butter:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean pod)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Pinch ground cloves

  • Pinch salt

To serve:

  • 6 ounces dark rum

  • 3 cups near-boiling hot water

  • Cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)


  1. Make the compound butter:

    In a stand mixer with a beater attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, orange zest, vanilla, spices, and salt until light and fluffy. (If making ahead, transfer the butter to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.)

    Garrett McCord
  2. To serve:

    Divide the butter between four mugs, using 3-4 tablespoons per mug. Add 1 1/2 ounces of rum per mug and then top with hot water to taste. Stir together until the butter and sugar melt. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and enjoy while hot!

    Hot Buttered Rum
    Garrett McCord
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
394 Calories
23g Fat
24g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 394
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 30%
Saturated Fat 14g 72%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 50mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 10%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 48mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.