How They Made It: Classic Rum Punch from River Run
Welcome back to our occasional series, “How They Made It,” where we explore the food and drink of Outlander. This time we’re toasting Jocasta & Duncan with classic Rum Punch. Slainté!
Something to celebrate
I don’t know about you, but I need something to celebrate. Not just for what’s happening IRL (in real life…I had to ask my daughters), but the last few episodes have been serious. Great (in my opinion), but serious.
So let’s go back a few weeks to Jocasta’s wedding to Duncan in Outlander Episode 6, “Better to Marry than Burn.” Wasn’t that a grand affair? That outdoor pergola was beautiful. The music, the food, the drinks…
A different sort of Rum Punch
Here I must break off and say that as beautiful as the setting was, the descriptions of the food and drinks in the book were quite detailed. One drink stood out to me as I was reading those chapters…Jocasta’s classic Rum Punch.
When I think about Rum Punch, pirates and fruity tropical drinks come to mind. Think a Daiquiri or maybe Grog. However, what Jocasta would have served at her wedding celebration would have been quite different.
Here’s how Diana Gabaldon wrote it, “Jocasta’s rum punch was made not only with the usual rum, sugar, and butter but also with dried currants, the whole concoction being mulled with a hot poker.” (Fiery Cross, Ch. 42, “The Deasil Charm“)
What’s being described is a hot drink, a classic Rum Punch that’s more like what I’d call Hot Buttered Rum. Having never had it, that’s what I set out to make for you. You’re welcome.
Oh, and I made the drink in a china cup similar to what Jocasta used for her wedding guests (in the book, at least). No tropical umbrellas here!
Rum in Colonial America
Jocasta wouldn’t have had any trouble procuring rum. It was quite prevalent in 18th century Colonial America. New England dominated rum distilling in the period through the sad practice of the “Triangle Trade” (rum, molasses, and slaves). In North Carolina during that time, distilling spiced rum began with Moravian settlers in the Winston-Salem area.
According to The Kitchn, “Rum’s popularity in early America is immortalized in the mixed drinks of the era. Philadelphia Fish-House Punch … features Jamaican rum among its several potent potables. Drinks like Black Strap (rum and molasses) and Hot Buttered Rum (rum, sugar, spices, and, yes, butter) were also part of the early canon.”
So rum and rum drinks dominated the colonies along with beer. It’s only when molasses began to be scarce during the war that other grains started to become more popular to distill.
Enough history…let’s get to the drink itself. I adapted Sugar, Glitter, & Spice’s Hot Buttered Rum recipe for our purposes.
How to make Classic Rum Punch
The amount of work required to make this drink is minimal. Basically you’re making a sweet spicy butter, and melting it with boiling water into rum. Add a splash of orange juice and it’s ready. (Well, the fruit has to show up somewhere, and I don’t have any currants…um…currently).
When beating the butter, brown sugar and spices together, it helps to have the butter softened to room temperature.
To assemble the cocktails, put in as much of the spiced butter as you’d like, usually 1 to 2 Tbsp. Same with the boiling water…use as much as the cup will hold. Just make sure the spiced butter is thoroughly melted before proceeding.
Have leftover spiced butter? Spread it on toasted Sourdough Spice Cake or Maple-Walnut Scones. And if you’d prefer, you can substitute any dark liquor, like whiskey or scotch, for the rum. Hot Buttered Scotch, anyone?
Classic Rum Punch is delicious. Hot, rich, and spicy, with a kick of rum to add interest, it’s perfect for a classy wedding, or just a chilly evening. Served in a china cup, I felt quite grand (even if I was just watching the wedding, rather than attending it).
Here’s to Jocasta & Duncan! Here’s to Jamie & Claire! Here’s to Bree & Roger! Here’s to good news everywhere!! Slainté!
What kind of cocktails are you making these days? Do tell!
Classic Rum Punch (aka Hot Buttered Rum)
- hand mixer
- china cup & saucer, mug, or heat-safe cocktail glass
For the spiced butter
- ½ cup butter, (4 oz, 113g)
- ½ cup brown sugar, (3-3/4 oz, 107g)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ginger
For the cocktails
- 3 cups boiling water, (24 oz, 672g)
- ¾ cup rum, (6 oz, 170g)
- ¼ cup orange juice, (2 oz, 56g)
- 4 strips orange peel
- Make the spiced butter: In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and spices until light and fluffy.
- Make the cocktails: Place 1 to 2 Tbsp of the spiced butter into each cup. The amout will depend on your preference and the size of your cup.
- Measure 3 Tbsp (1½ oz, 45g) of rum into each cup and top with up to ¾ cup (6 oz, 170g) boiling water. Stir well until the butter is dissolved.
- Add a splash of orange juice in each glass. Squeeze the orange peel over the drinks, then skewer onto a toothpick and garnish the cocktail. Serve hot & enjoy!
Discovering Outlander after Season 1 first aired, Tammy quickly went down the rabbit-hole on social media and podcasts and found a world of like-minded fans who not only tolerated her obsession, but encouraged the madness! She combined her Outlander-inspired interest for scotch whisky with her continuing passion for baking and storytelling in her blog, Scotch & Scones…Explorations in a glass and in the oven. Joining the staff of Outlander Cast as the resident baker has brought Tammy full circle, from a podcast fan to a contributing writer. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @scotch_scones, and find her on Facebook at @scotchandsconesblog.