How low did Boston temperatures plummet this week? Officially, 2 degrees below zero. With wind chill, make that 30 below. It made my down coat feel like a light sweater. After 10 minutes of walking my recalcitrant and baffled dog, a hot toddy seemed in order.
I found this Hot Spiced Rum in one of America’s first published cocktail books, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion (1862) by hotel bartender Jerry Thomas. Its publication date is puzzling, since the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 disrupted supplies of liquor, not to mention sugar and spices. At this time of scarcity, the book’s punches, juleps, and cobblers must have seemed in the realm of fantasy. Yet the hundreds of recipes have survived to this day because they live up to their billing to provide “clear and reliable directions” in “endless variety.”
Recipe number 207, Hot Spiced Rum, was indeed well explained but contained a startling blast of spices. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste. As you sip, let the drink’s fragrant steam shove winter away.
Hot Spiced Rum (1862)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 wine-glass [4 ounces, according to my jigger] Jamaica rum
1 teaspoon mixed spices (allspice and cloves)
1 piece of butter as large as half a chestnut [I used a 1/2 inch cube]
Directions: Fill a tumbler with hot water.
[Here’s what I did: Place the rum, sugar and spices in a heat-proof glass or mug. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add hot water, stir again, and float the butter on top.]