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When the winter weather sets in, ice-filled cocktails lose a bit of their appeal as warmer options gain favor. Whether you’re curling up by the fire with your significant other or perhaps hosting a small gathering of friends on a chilly winter’s eve, you’ll want to offer something that will warm the belly … something like this fantastic hot sage-buttered rum cocktail by Nashville-based bartender Mike Wolf.

Mike is the owner of Chopper tiki bar, and he recently published his first book, Garden to Glass: Grow Your Drinks from the Ground Up. Mike graciously shared his recipe for hot sage-buttered rum along with some pointers for whipping up this decidedly wintry drink. “This hot-buttered rum is a great way to add umami to your winter cocktail arsenal,” Mike says. “The sage butter is an element you can return to again and again, as it will keep in the fridge all winter long. And let’s face it, butter makes everything better!”

Pick up a copy of his new release at your local bookseller or online HERE, whip up a batch of this beverage, and then relax and peruse the pages. Cheers!

Mike Wolf- bartender

Mike Wolf is a Nashville bartender, owner of Chopper tiki bar and the author of the newly published Garden to Glass: Grow Your Drinks from the Ground Up. Image: Peter Frank Edwards

Garden to Glass - book by Mike Wolf

Garden to Glass was just released this week. Find it at your local bookseller or online HERE.

Tiki mug with drink

Seasonal happiness in a tiki mug | Image: Mike Wolf

Hot Sage-Buttered Rum

Mike Wolf
Add this delicious hot sage-buttered rum to your winter cocktail arsenal!
5 from 1 vote
Course Cocktail, Alcohol
Cuisine American


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 to 10 sage leaves plus some sage “trees” for garnish
  • 5 dashes angostura or other aromatic bitters divided
  • 6 tablespoons Kerrygold salted butter or any good European-style butter, softened
  • 1 black tea bag or a homemade bouquet garni of dried herbs
  • 1 lemon at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey syrup 2 parts honey to 1 part water
  • 1 teaspoon St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram or other Allspice Liqueur
  • 1 to 2 ounces good Jamaican rum like Appleton Estate 12 year
  • Star anise pods for garnish


At least 4 hours ahead:

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the water with four dashes of the bitters and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the sage leaves and cook for five to 10 minutes, until it’s nice and fragrant, being careful not to let all the liquid evaporate. Remove from the heat and let your sage “tea” cool down for 15 minutes. Strain out the cooked sage leaves through a tea strainer or cheesecloth and discard.
  • Combine the sage tea and butter in a mixing bowl and mix, by hand using a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until incorporated. Set out a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter and use a spatula to carefully transfer the butter mix onto the wrap. After you’ve gotten every bit of that delicious, aromatic butter out of the mixing bowl, roll and shape it into the shape of a stick of butter. Place it in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight to firm back up a little, to make it easy to slice into your hot-buttered rum.

When ready to drink:

  • In a teapot, boil enough water for two drinks. While your water is boiling, get the sage butter out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature to soften a bit. Fill up your mug with the freshly boiled water and place a plate on top to seal in the heat. After a few minutes, discard the tempering water and fill the mug a little more than halfway with more of the freshly boiled water. Add the tea bag or herbs, and put the plate back on top of the mug to seal in the heat and get a nice infusion going. While the tea is infusing, cut some wedges of lemon, removing the seeds. After three minutes, remove the tea bag and lift the plate off your mug and squeeze in about 1/2 ounce of lemon juice. Add the honey syrup, allspice liqueur, the remaining dash of bitters, and the rum to taste, depending on how strong you like your drink. Warm a spoon under the faucet and stir all the ingredients together in the mug. Slice two small pats of sage butter and add them to your drink, slowly stirring to incorporate the butter (I know you’re thirsty, but don’t spill your precious creation by stirring too aggressively!). Garnish with a big sprig of sage (or even rosemary, as shown), and star anise pods and use the sprig to stir in the butter as needed. Be warm, be merry—you are enjoying a drink so delicious, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside.
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