The antidote to January blues: buttered rum
This was meant to go up well in time for Christmas. Lots of things were meant to happen before Christmas but we were so busy elfing away that all non-essential tasks got jettisoned. It might seem a little Christmassy for the new year but this concoction is still perfect for January. It has a lot of warmth and a kick of booze but, importantly, it can be made in individual portions. January might call for some form of restraint but it is much better to have everything in moderation: just one mug of buttered rum to sip for January rather than the family-sized vat we might have hoovered up back in December. And best of all it is incredibly easy to make and almost endlessly customisable.
First, butter. It might be January but it has to be butter - no vegan spreads nor life-prolonging olive oil concoctions. We creamed a tablespoon of butter in the bottom of a small, 100ml mug with two teaspoons of sugar. We then added the spices - a couple of gratings of nutmeg, the tiniest pinch of ground cloves, and a small pinch each of cinnamon and mixed spice. Neither the quantities nor exact spices need to be precise: add more sugar if you have a sweet tooth; leave out the cloves if you don't have any; or add in a dash of vanilla essence if this floats your boat. The rum mix is rich and a teacup sized portion is more than enough so spice accordingly with eighths of teaspoons and small pinches.
Add a shot of rum into the cup and top up with boiling water while stirring thoroughly. The rum was a batch we had barrel-aged to give a smokey, charred dimension. We used a cinnamon stick for stirring, primarily for aesthetic reasons, but a spoon would work equally well. And drink while its still hot, stirring to keep the butter incorporated. Perfect for after a winter's walk, to warm up after a long day's skiing, or just while you are sitting on the sofa binge-watching Netflix.