Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits

Recipe: Hot Rum Cow

The other night I was looking for something warming to sip and decided to try out a recipe from a cocktail book brought back by a friend on a recent trip to Belfast: The Merchant Hotel Bar Book. As I flipped through the "Hot Drinks" section, something immediately caught my eye: Hot Rum Cow.

With its whimsical name and tempting list of ingredients (piping hot milk, dark rum, vanilla, aromatic bitters, and sugar), this Cow sounded like a winner.

Taking a closer look, I noticed that the measures in this book were expressed as parts - and that those parts were written as fractions (in this particular recipe 17ths!): "5/17 Bacardi 8yr rum, 2/17 cane syrup, 10/17 piping hot milk, 1 dash aromatic bitters, dribble vanilla extract."

This was going to take some calculating. Assuming I wanted to make a drink with 1.5 ounces of rum as a base, I figured that would then mean 0.6 ounces of cane syrup, and 3 ounces of milk. I gave it a try.

The resulting drink was very rich and flavorful. The warmth of the Flor de Caña 7 year old dark rum I used (as a substitute for Bacardi 8yr) really shone through and combined almost seamlessly with the bitters and vanilla. But after a few sips, I found the concoction a little on the strong side. I decided to add more hot milk, topping up the mug in increments, and finally settling on a total of 8 ounces (more than twice what the original recipe called for).

I found this super-cowed-up version to be quite delicious - very flavorful and soothing - like a lighter, eggless cousin of a posset. A perfect nightcap for a chilly day.

Hot Rum Cow

Makes 1 drink

  • 8 ounces


  • 1 1/2 ounces

    dark rum, such as Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7 Year Old

  • 1 drop

    aromatic cocktail bitters, such as Angostura

  • 1 drop

    vanilla extract

  • Cane syrup or brown sugar, to taste

  • Grated cinnamon and/or nutmeg for sprinkling

Heat the milk in a saucepan on low, taking care not to scorch it. Meanwhile combine bitters, vanilla, and rum in a mug (I pre-warmed mine by filling it first with a bit of hot water, allowing it to stand a minute, and then emptying it before adding the ingredients). Top up with warm milk and stir in brown sugar to taste (I used a single teaspoon of it). Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from The Merchant Hotel Bar Book, volume 2, by Sean James Muldoon.

Per serving, based on 2 servings. (% daily value)

  • Calories: 238
  • Fat: 3.7 g (5.7%)
  • Saturated: 2.1 g (10.6%)
  • Carbs: 5.8 g (1.9%)
  • Fiber: 0.2 g (0.9%)
  • Sugars: 5.7 g
  • Protein: 3.6 g (7.2%)
  • Cholesterol: 11.3 mg (3.8%)
  • Sodium: 49 mg (2%)

Related: Recipe Recommendation: Hot Buttered Bourbon and Cider

(Images: Nora Maynard)