I don't mind the browns and greys of stick season, but November in Vermont can be a chilling time for more reasons than one. Restaurants close for weeks, hunters blanket the woods and the first fires are lit. Being outside can seem more like a task than a pleasure.
But bad seasons for outdoor sports can mean good ones for tippling, and high time for warm drinks — such as hot buttered rum.
I hadn't had this drink in years until I picked up a half-bottle of Dunc's Mill Maple Flavored Rum while reporting a recent story on local microdistillers. Made in Barnet with organic cane sugar and distiller Duncan Holaday's own maple sap, the rum is subtly sweet and warming all on its own. Blend it in a mug with hot water, sugar and butter, and it doesn't just warm but seems to melt muscles and soften synapses.
I paired various spices and flavorings with this rum, and in the end, found a combination of fresh ginger, cardamom and cinnamon irresistable. It takes very little fuss, too — this comes together in as much time as it takes to boil water. The small pat of butter gives the drink a silkiness, the comforting spices taste as though they are repelling viruses, and the maple rum lends a sweetness that allows you to go easy on sugar.
Hot Buttered (Maple) Rum
2-3 cardamom pods
1 pat of unsalted butter (cultured butter works especially well)
a few slices of peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of light brown sugar, or more to taste
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick
a pinch of orange zest, or an orange twist
1 dram of Dunc's Mill Maple Flavored Rum, to desired strength
a few drops of vanilla (optional)
Add cardamom pods to bottom of a tall mug and muddle slighty with a pestle or other blunt kitchen tool. Add butter, ginger, sugar, cardamom pods, orange zest and spices. In a separate mug, combine rum and hot water, then pour over spice mixture. Stir to dissolve butter and sugar, add a few drops of vanilla, if desired, and serve.