The weather turns chill, the days are short, Christmas is around the corner and that means it’s time for Hot Buttered Rum! Okay, I confess; for me, it means it’s time for eggnog, too, but I’ve already given you the low carb version of that in a previous blog.

I remember one Christmas, Mike and the boys and I decided to spend our holiday away from home, heading to Sun Valley, Idaho to ski. It was the one and only time we actually celebrated our Christmas someplace besides our own home in all the years the kids were growing up. Doing so entailed not only transporting all our presents, our Christmas stockings, and all the can’t-do-without, heirloom family ornaments to make the celebration somewhat traditional, but cooking Christmas dinner in someone else’s kitchen (albeit a very nice and well equipped one) in the condo we’d rented for the week. We had a wonderful time and some great skiing, but for me, at any rate, Christmas is best spent around the family hearth and we never again elected to do otherwise.

What brings that Christmas to mind, however, is thoughts of hot buttered rum.

I grew up in Arkansas, where although it does snow and can get quite cold in the winter, it’s usually in brief intermittant snaps of a few days or a week or so and there’s not much opportunity for ‘dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh’ except in song. I had grown up dreaming of going on a traditional sleigh ride at Christmas.

Trail%20Creek%20Cabin.jpgThere’s a famous old-time restaurant in Sun Valley called the Trail Creek Cabin, where such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper, and their pals used to dine back in the day. In winter, it’s accessible only by cross-country ski or…you guessed it…horse drawn sleigh. Mike and the boys surprised me with dinner there during our stay; we fortified ourselves beforehand with hot beverages: hot cocoa for the boys and hot buttered rum for Mike and me.

The night was clear with about a jillion stars overhead and romantic as it seemed at first, even with ski parkas and ear-warmers and the thick woolen blankets the sleigh operators provided, we about froze on the 15 or 20 minute ride out there. I was mighty thankful for the internal antifreeze I’d imbibed beforehand and to this day just the words ‘hot buttered rum’ conjure up that night.

As with eggnog, the ingredients in Hot Buttered Rum are pretty user friendly for low-carbers, with the singular exception of the 1 cup of brown sugar or molasses used in traditional recipes, which is a pretty easy fix.

The big benefit of hot buttered rum over eggnog, however, is convenience. Once you’ve got the buttering spices whipped up, they’ll keep for a while in a sealed container in the refrigerator, so you can whip up a single mug or half a dozen on the spur of the moment throughout the holiday season. If, for instance, a group of carolers stops by to treat you to a little holiday music, you can treat them (and yourself) to a little almost instant holiday merriment…provided, of course, that they have a designated driver or they’re walking. And, if you must, you can make a non-alcoholic version by substituting 1 teaspoon of rum flavoring for the rum in the final preparation step.

Here’s my low carb version. Drink it in good health.

Almost No Carb Hot Buttered Rum

Makes about 16 servings

To make the buttered spice base mixture:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp (organic if possible)
24 packets Splenda*
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt

1. In a bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter with the Splenda (or sweetener) until light and fluffy.
2. Add the spices and beat until well combined.
3. Turn the mixture out onto a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper and form it into a log about the diameter of a stick of butter. Wrap tightly around the butter mixture log and refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.

* You may use the sweetening equivalent of 1 cup of sugar as any sweetener you prefer that is heat stable.

To make each mug of the finished beverage:

1. Into a heavy mug, put 1 pat (about 2 teaspoons) of the butter spice base.
2. Add 1 1/2 ounces of good dark rum.
3. Fill mug with hot water, just off the boil.
4. Stir until melted.



  1. Sorry to derail your blog entry, but I was thinking about mincemeat another traditional seasonal treat and wanted to share my experiences with you. Mincemeat would seem to be a natural for paleo diets since it would seem to be just another variation on pemmican.

    We are not hunters, but here in Alaska we tend to deal with large carcasses more than most. Sausage and mincemeat–made with MEAT–are a natural part of the cutting and wrapping process. I tried various recipes for mincemeat, using various game aminals, but was disappointed every time in the texture of the final result. The slightly gristly, fibrous texture of the meat clashed with the fruits.

    However, I finally had success last year with mincemeat made with homemade pemmican. The meat seemed to just melt into the fruit texture and the pie was neither too sweet nor too meaty. It was great! Everyone raved about it, including mincemeat haters and children. Plus if you have the pemmican on hand, it is easy to make. It makes a wonderful lunch for the ski trail, too. I can give more details if you are interested.

    Thanks for your blog.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: By all means, send it along if you’d like to share it. It sound intriguing. Mike loves the sanitized mince meat that is just apples, raisins, and a bit of lard, which is really not very carb friendly, even with Splenda and a low carb crust. He might also love your pemmican version.

  2. Sounds yummy!

    Not much of a drinker, but have been looking for an “acceptable” drink for the holidays! And rum is my drink of choice.


    COMMENT from MD EADES: Hope you like it. You can always cut the rum portion back a bit, too. Enjoy. The other thing that is pretty good is to make hot mulled cider, but cut it half with an apple cinnamon herbal tea to reduce the carb content of the cider itself, add a little Splenda or other acceptable non-caloric sweetener to taste, and then spike it with a little rum, to make a sort of spicy hot rum punch. You can purchase mulling spices or make your own combo.

  3. Thanks for the recipe, too bad I don’t drink!

    On a side note, I just recently purchased an HDTV and am now getting the HD programming. Our local PBS channel (KQED in San Francisco) will only be broadcasting your show on their HD channel, so I’m so excited that I’ll be able to watch again in January!!

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Make the non alcoholic version with rum flavoring in place of rum! Yes, we’re excited that Network PBS-HD is now broadcasting the show at regular times: M-F four showings a day, so you should have ample opportunity to see it on your new HDTV. I think it’s maybe 7:30 am 7:30 pm and 1:30 am and 1:30 pm Eastern time.

  4. Sorry to take so long getting back to you on this. My receipe is really just a rule of thumb. I used equal volumes of pemmican and dried fruit. I simmered it for a few minutes in added beef broth to plump up the fruits and then baked it in a suet crust till the crust was brown. Not really low carb, but if you eschew the pastry it could qualify as paleo at least. The kids liked it for breakfast just as much as the traditional morning after favorite, pumpkin pie. I am gonna send some back to school with the kids, since it keeps so well. I think it would be wonderful nosh for a plane trip, too. Merry Christmas


    COMMENT from MD EADES: Sounds good. Where do you get the pemmican, or do you make your own?

  5. Girl, I don’t know about you, but these days it doesn’t seem to get that cold here in Missouri.

    I love checking your recipes. Last night I went shopping and you know how many aisles you can avoid when you aren’t shopping for bread and cookies… 3/4 of the store.

    Thanks Doc, keep them posts coming.

    Protein Power was the 1st book I bought when trying to learn about insulin resistance.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: You’re right; when you eat the PP way, you basically go around the ouside aisles of the store: produce department, dairy case, and then meat/poultry/seafood case. The whole big middle of the store (where all the carbs are kept) you can bypass…except for dipping in to get coffee, tea, spices and cleaning and paper products.
    And, hey, if it doesn’t get cold enough in MO for hot buttered rum, do as we sometimes did when it was in the 60s on Christmas Day in Arkansas…crank on the A/C and build a fire anyway. Then later go outside and shoot baskets in a T-shirt.

  6. Good morning Dr. Eades,

    I am a physician and reside in Chicago. I also own a restaurant and as one of my passions is cooking I am constantly looking for new recipes.

    As I have just recently researched,have tried several recipes, and experimented with the various methods of preparation for Hot Buttered Rum. I would just like to mention that the type of rum used makes a world of difference in the taste.

    The most flavorful I have found is
    Appleton Estates Dark Rum

    Please try and let me know what you think.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Thanks for the tip. I’ll give it a try. We usually make a big batch when we’re with our kids in Texas at Christmas to get us through putting together all the grandangels’ toys.

    Have a great Christmas!


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