Butter up your Christmas cocktails: the surprise ingredient that takes Manhattans from meh to marvellous


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Butter up your Christmas cocktails: the surprise ingredient that takes Manhattans from meh to marvellous” was written by Laura Martin, for theguardian.com on Monday 16th November 2020 12.43 UTC

It takes a special kind of person to sip a cocktail and think: needs more butter. At first glance, it seems preposterous, putting a dash of butter into your Manhattan. But the deft touch of a butter knife can take drinks from meh to marvellous – and has been doing so for centuries.

And it’s right about this time of year, as things get colder and darker, that drinks can really benefit from this silky addition. Experimenting with a dash of butter means both hot and cold drinks shine through with a luxurious, full texture and background notes of its gentle umami flavour.

However, you’ll need to know where to start, as its use is not as straightforward as it might seem, according to Michael Butt, of Soulshakers, a leading bar and cocktail consultancy. “Butter has to be used sparingly and cleverly in drinks,” he says. “It can be tricky to get the balance right, but the payoff is a drink that’s rich and satisfying.”

Hot buttered rum
As a gateway drink to these slick sips, Butt suggests starting off with a classic hot buttered rum, a turbo-charged hot toddy.

For his twist on the seasonal drink, take 60ml aged rum, 20ml sugar syrup made with demerara or muscovado sugar, 1 dash Angostura bitters, 7.5g (½tbsp) Kerrygold Salted Butter and 100ml hot apple juice, and warm it all gently in a pan. To serve, garnish with lemon zest and a grate of nutmeg. If there’s ever been a year in which to take a warm hug of comfort from a hot toddy, this is it, so drink up.

The recipe works well as a fancy mocktail, too – with the rum switched out for pineapple juice. It can also be enjoyed as the alcohol-free drink known to Americans as hot buttered cider, just leave out the rum and throw in a cinnamon stick and a star anise instead.

Luxury mulled wine
Sticking with a warming tipple, a classic mulled wine can be made even fancier with the addition of a star ingredient. Butt swears by his dad’s recipe, in which he takes: one bottle of bordeaux blend or cabernet sauvignon; 250ml ruby port; 250ml water; 125ml cognac; 125g caster sugar; 2 cinnamon sticks; ¼ nutmeg, grated; one orange, sliced; one-and-a-half lemons, sliced; and 50g butter (we’d suggest Kerrygold). Heat all the ingredients gently in a saucepan – whatever you do, don’t let them boil. Then serve this dash of festive spirit to all your guests. Cheers.


Tudor-style buttered beer
It turns out buttered beer isn’t just for Harry Potter and co, but was a pretty tasty Tudor-era staple, too. A few years ago, Heston Blumenthal tweaked a historical recipe to make a highly palatable 21st-century treat. He recommends warming 2 cans of ale with ¾tsp ground ginger, ½tsp ground cloves and ¾tsp ground nutmeg in a saucepan. Then, in a separate bowl, use a hand whisk to beat 120g caster sugar with five egg yolks until light and creamy. Add this mixture to the spiced ale and, ever so carefully, heat until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and whisk in 20g unsalted butter. Froth with a handheld milk frother, and serve still warm in an espresso cup. Hot cocktails for dessert? ’Tis the season.

Buttered White Christmas
If infusing or steeping drinks is your thing – who doesn’t have excess time on their hands to try out new skills right now? – I’ve been experimenting with a new twist on a White Russian called Buttered White Christmas.

Make popcorn in a pan, and once the kernels are popped, drizzle with 1tbsp of melted Kerrygold Salted Butter and 1tsp of soft brown sugar. Mix, then steep in 200ml of single cream for a few hours. Strain, take 30ml of the cream and mix with 60ml of vodka and 15ml of a coffee liqueur. Shake, then pour on the rocks and garnish with a dusting of nutmeg and a few bobbing popcorn. Finally, settle down to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and drink in the pure festiveness.

Bulletproof coffee
If the idea of guzzling liquid butter still seems a little “Boxing Day at Nigella’s”, it was, in fact, at the centre of a paleo-based health trend in 2014. Bulletproof coffee – coffee made by blending a cup of the hot brew with a couple of tablespoons of grass-fed butter and a teaspoon of coconut oil – is said to increase energy levels, alertness and keep you fuller for longer.

It’s debatable whether this cup of caffeine really lives up to its health claims, but it has a cult-like following from those who swear by the stuff. And, truth be told, anything that can kickstart sluggish winter mornings is worth a shot – pass the butter dish, please.

Gold standard
Head to Kerrygold’s recipe page to discover the many other ways that a dollop of pure Irish butter can bring flair and flavour to a whole galaxy of dishes

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