There's something about the bitter winter months that makes rich drinks all the more satiating. Think eggnog, verte chaud, and the classic Tom & Jerry. Since it's now halfway through January, when many a New Year's resolution has already been broken, butter cocktails couldn't have come at a better time. Bartenders now are populating menus with all things butter (perhaps partially inspired by Los Angeles' buttered coffee trend), from hot buttered variations to cocktails made with butter-washed spirits.
Location: 142 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA
Bartender: Jarek Mountain
Cocktail: The King of the North ($11) with Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, slow-roasted pecans, butter, Contratto Vermouth Rosso, and Lillet Rouge.
Bartender Jarek Mountain washed rye whiskey with roasted pecans and butter for his King of the North. The result is a savory cocktail with a creamy finish. "The roasted pecans combined with butter and the vermouths give it a smooth chocolate note while still containing two ounces of rye," says Mountain. The cocktail was originally created for the fall but has proven popular even during spring and summer.
Location: 853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA
Bartender: Rob Ficks
Cocktail: Brown Buttered Rum ($12) with Cruzan Black Strap Rum, brown butter broth (butter, cinnamon, allspice, star anise, fresh ginger, vanilla bean, demerera sugar, water), served warm in a coffee mug topped with Curaçao-whipped cream and grated cinnamon.
"The thing that really grosses me out about hot buttered rum is the pad of butter on top," says cocktail creator Rob Ficks. "As soon as it melts, you're left with this oil slick of butter on top of your drink. Not very appealing." So, he fat-washed not only the rum but the spiced broth, which infuses buttery flavor but leaves out the oily texture. It's a decadent winter warmer.
Location: 406 Stuart Street, Boston, MA
Bartender: Jason Percival
Cocktail: The Fat Monk ($14) with Old Monk aged rum infused with roasted sugar pumpkin and brown butter, Pedro Ximenez sherry, and hot orange scented water.
This is a pumpkin spin on a hot buttered rum, but instead of dropping a wad of melted butter into the cocktail, the rum is fat-washed with brown butter for a nutty, smooth mouthfeel. "The reason you'd want to add butter to a cocktail is very much the same reason you'd finish an Irish Coffee with steamed cream: it creates a rounder, warmer mouthfeel and provides a contrast to the other flavors. Cream against bitter, a nutty note from butter against a sweet rum backdrop," says bartender Jason Percival. "It's a slight savory touch to balance the rest out."
Location: 1227 W 18th Street, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Dustin Drankiewicz
Cocktail: Buck & Butter ($9) with nutmeg butter-washed bourbon, maple syrup, hot water, clarified milk, and a cinnamon stick garnish.
Beverage director Dustin Drankiewicz says his take on a hot buttered rum tastes like "your grandma's coffee table," namely those butterscotch candies. "It’s buttery, silky on the palate, a pop of maple on the back end and keeps you warm most importantly during these winter months." The difference is that he fat-washes the bourbon with brown butter for that butterscotch flavor.
Location: 330 N Wabash Avenue Floor 2, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Priscilla Young
Cocktail: Corn, Bread & Butter ($13) with brown butter fat-washed Death’s Door White Whiskey, cranberry, and orange marmalade.
Since her guests usually find white whiskey too harsh, beverage director Priscilla Young set out to create an approachable white whiskey cocktail. The flavor of her breakfast-inspired Corn, Bread & Butter, which uses brown butter fat-washed white whiskey, is reminiscent of caramel popcorn. "When combined with marmalade and a touch of lemon juice the entire cocktail sings," says Young.
Location: 1026 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA
Bartender: Josh Goldman
Cocktail: Aimee's Martini ($14) with vodka, butter, hay, amontillado and fino sherry, salted honey, lactart, and hay-smoked salt-cured olives.
Amazingly, this butter cocktail mimics the flavors of vintage Champagne. The vodka is fat-washed with butter, hay, and vanilla, while the lactart lends a creamy mouthfeel. "There's a delicious dry nuttiness and subtle barrel age from the amontillado sherry and the fino adds a touch of yeast," explains barman Josh Goldman.
Location: 6531 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Avery Underhill
Cocktail: Hot Buttered Zombie ($14) with Zaya Gran Reserva rum, Gosling's 151 rum, Pamplemousse, velvet falernum, Pernod, and cinnamon butter.
A fan of both hot buttered rum and the Zombie, barman Avery Underhill wanted to create the ultimate mashup. And here he's made the infamously boozy Tiki cocktail even more potent by subbing out the usual Don's Mix with Pamplemousse liqueur. "The Zombie, one of my favorite tiki drinks, lends itself well for this cocktail because it already contains those warm winter flavors," he says.
Location: 11801 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA
Bartender: Julian Cox
Cocktail: Polynesian Pearl Diver ($14) with buttered scotch, orange juice, butter syrup, bitters, and allspice.
For a luscious and smooth texture, drink creator Julian Cox uses hydrocolloids to emulsify the butter syrup ensuring it doesn't separate. Isle of Sky 8-year scotch is also fat-washed with butter. "We thought it would be fun to do a scotch Tiki drink instead of rum, since it’s outside the box in total Fiscal Agent fashion," explains Cox.
Location: 317 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA
Bartender: Vincenzo Marianella
Cocktail: Butter Me Up ($13) with dark rum, grappa, housemade cultured butter, and hot tea.
"With the arrival of the winter season, I wanted to create a warm after dinner cocktail that would be the perfect finale to a meal at Love & Salt," says barman Vincenzo Marianella. He uses chef Michael Fiorelli's housemade cultured butter, which adds depth and creaminess to the cocktail, as well as creates a dessert-like flavor. Additionally the grappa seals the deal as a digestive.
Location: 8265 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Ryan Wainwright
Cocktail: Mr. Menotti’s Hot Buttered Coffee ($14) with Hamilton Guyana Rum, butter batter, and Four Barrel coffee.
Think: A hybrid of a hot buttered rum and an Irish coffee. "For me, hot buttered rum is good, but it’s missing a certain depth that everyone tries to overcompensate for with a super dark rum," says barman Ryan Wainwright. "But coffee makes up for that with those deep, chocolatey notes to enhance the flavors of the rum. Super simple, super delicious."
Location: 8265 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartenders: Devon Tarby and Alex Day
Cocktail: Chardonnay ($20) with butter-washed French Burgundy, Paul Beau VSOP, Giffard Vanille, Clear Creek Pear Liqueur, and sugar cane.
For their new Alice Waters-inspired cocktail menu, bartenders Devon Tarby and Alex Day wanted to create a cocktail that emulated a buttery and oaky Chardonnay. "The butter on the Burgundy creates some of those notes we so often find in California Chardonnays, the same with the cognac for oak," says bar manager Katie Emmerson. "The rest of the ingredients help to make it something balanced that give us the feeling of California Chardonnay but as something we all want to drink."
Location: Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Avenue, Miami, FL
Bartender: Rob Ferrara
Cocktail: Malibu's Most Wanted ($5) with coconut butter fat-washed Mount Gay Black Barrel rum.
Bar Director Rob Ferrara created this buttery rum shot as an answer to all the artificial flavored rums on the market. "We wanted to offer a great product with a creative way of infusing the flavor of coconut without making it sweet," he says. By fat-washing the rum with coconut butter, it adds more depth while incorporating the coconut essence.
New York City
Location: 29-12 23rd Avenue, Astoria, NY
Bartender: Mike di Tota
Cocktail: Good Ol' Boy ($12) with brown butter-washed bourbon, amaro, pear nectar, burnt orange, lemon, spices, and Angostura bitters.
The combination of brown butter and pear lend this cocktail a caramel quality. The cocktail's creator, Mike di Tota, calls it "a winter spiced Werther's Original."
Location: 27 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY
Bartender: Lauren Corriveau
Cocktail: Fool's Paradise ($14) with brown butter-washed Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Rittenhouse Rye whiskey, Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum, pineapple gum syrup, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Bitters, and Angostura bitters.
"Fool’s Paradise is an Old Fashioned inspired by the flavors of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake," says its creator bartender Lauren Corriveau. The brown butter wash is used to mellow out the spirits here resulting in a "velvety decadent cocktail."
Location: 400 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Bartender: Chris Vaughn
Cocktail: Hot Buttered Rum ($19) with Zaya Gran Reserva 12 yr. rum, ginger-spiced compound butter, and whipped cream.
Hot buttered rum is a cocktail that will only work with butter, according to bartender Chris Vaughn. "The fat from the butter is the perfect accompaniment, in terms of taste and texture, with the rum," he says. Do not even try using a butter substitute. To give his version a spicy kick, Vaughn added ginger liqueur.
Location: 4693 30th Street, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Erick Castro
Cocktail: Hot Buttered Rum ($8) with Bacardi 8, Cruzan Black Strap Rum, spiced brown sugar spice syrup, unsalted butter, hot water, and grated cinnamon.
According to bartender Erick Castro, back in the day, drinks like this were created to provide comfort and sustenance during the winter months. But for his Hot Buttered Rum, Castro added just enough butter to give the cocktail some depth and body. It still needs the natural creaminess of the dairy to come alive.
Location: 1420 Market Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Aaron Paul
Cocktail: Lemon Bomb ($14) with Santa Teresa 1796 Rum, butter, lemon juice, pomelo syrup, egg yolk, sea salt, and topped with egg whites, sugar, Flor de Caña rum, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Bartender Aaron Paul uses a different approach for fat-washing the rum for his cocktail: vacuum sealing it with butter, then circulating it for an hour at 60° C. And since he uses real unsalted butter, it provides that creamy mouthfeel while working with the aged rum's vanilla notes and egg yolk to create a rich and bright lemon curd flavor.
Location: 2323 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Madison Fraser
Cocktail: John the Conqueror ($12) with hot buttered rum, pineapple, jerk spices, lime zest, and nutmeg.
A Carribbean take on the hot buttered rum courtesy of pineapple and jerk spices. "We use pineapple gomme to add some supple body to the cocktail, and the flavors all interact beautifully with the rums we’ve chosen," says general manager and cocktail creator Madison Fraser. The butter with the hot water makes drinking this a cozy experience, the steam delivering the woody vanilla notes and baking spices.