My favorite cold weather beverage

♫ It’s the holiday season
With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock
And don’t forget to hang up your sock
‘Cause just exactly at 12 o’clock
He’ll be coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney, down! ♫

A frequent December evening view from my sofa.
A frequent December evening view from my sofa.

When Santa comes down my chimney he’s expecting something a bit more potent than cookies and milk!  It’s been quite cold here in the southeast, so hot beverages and toasty fires are starting to become a habit in my house.  I whipped up a rather large batch of my Hot Buttered Rum batter, enough to get me and Santa through to New Year’s Day.  Many have asked, so the recipe follows.  It’s kind of a mash-up of two different recipes, one from the web and one from a book, with lots of my own tweaks.  I like my batter rather spicy, but also quite creamy, so my recipe includes seven different spices and vanilla ice cream.  Feel free to increase spices you like more, decrease or even eliminate ones you don’t.  Make it yours!  Enjoy!

JenTiki’s Hot Buttered Rum

1 heaping Tbsp of batter (recipe below)
2 oz good quality blended aged rum (don’t use a spiced rum)
Enough hot water (close to boiling) to fill the mug

Put the batter and rum into a heat-proof mug and top with the hot water. Stir ingredients together until batter is melted and incorporated.

Garnish with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and a long cinnamon stick

Hot Buttered Rum Batter

1 cup of salted butter (softened)
2 firmly packed cups brown sugar
½ cup demerara sugar
1 pint vanilla ice cream (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt (½ tsp if using unsalted butter)

Step 1.  Using an electric stand- or hand-mixer*, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and demerara sugar.

Step 2.  Mix in the softened ice cream until well combined.

Step 3.  In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar and remaining ingredients.  Add this mixture about 1/3 at a time to the butter/sugar/ice cream mixture and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Put the mixture in a storage container and keep in the refrigerator until the butter’s expiration date.

* if you don’t have a stand- or hand-mixer, melt the butter first to make it easier on yourself and use a wire whisk. Start by combining the melted butter, ice cream, brown sugar and demerara sugar together, then proceed to step 3 above. Be sure to cool the finished batter before refrigerating.

The Rumspiration Awards – Miami Rum Renaissance Festival Edition

Last month I attended the Miami Rum Festival and participated on the Consumer Rum Jury panel. So I hereby present the Rumspiration Awards – Miami Rum Fest Edition.

Best 80s Throwback Product: Middas Cachaca – for the gold flakes in the bottle, reminiscent of Goldschlager Cinnamon liqueur, which I actually did drink in the 80s. It also tasted pretty darned good.

Best Use of Wildlife in a Vendor Booth: Bayou Rum – for having live baby alligators visitors could hold for photo ops. They really were very cute.


Best Pre Party: Plantation Rum – for the poolside party for the Rum XPs and Consumer Rum Jury panelists at the conclusion of judging the day before the official start of the festival. Awesome food, drinks, rum samples, and the most adorable little gold pineapple lapel pins.


Best Rum with a Not-So-Great Name: Yolo Gold – Though the brand name makes it sound as though this is being marketed to a Kardashian-loving sorority crowd, the contents of the bottle are actually quite good. This rum even received my highest score of the rums presented to the Consumer Rum Jury for judging.

Fanciest Booth Experience: Diplomatico Rum – the booth was set up as an exclusive lounge complete with velvet rope and a beautiful LBD-clad woman controlling access. There was an elegant (read: not cheesy portable fold-up) bar with 3-4 seats, and a seating area with tufted leather sofa and chairs.

Best Mascot: Tiburon Rum – the Captain Jack Sparrow look-alike pirate was charming and appropriately unsettling. He even had the Johnny Depp voice down pat!


Friendliest Brand Reps: Ron Cartavio and Ron Duran – My dear friends Jim Driscoll and Carole Baker are always warm, funny, and generous with some of my favorite rums on the planet.

Best hosts: Robert, Rob, and Robin Burr! This family of rum lovers work all year to produce this amazing event and are passionate about sharing the joy and fun of rum!

Overall, I had a fantastic time and really enjoyed spending time with old friends and making new ones! This is becoming one of the highlights of my year and I can’t wait to go back in 2017!

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival

Rum Competition Results


Paisley Park Swizzle

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today
to get through this thing called life.”


Today we lost a truly innovative musical genius. Prince Rogers Nelson was a huge part of my life. In 1983, my friend Brian took me to see the 1999 tour with The Time and Vanity 6 opening the show. I was mesmerized by the funk, the fun, and the fabulosity! I immediately became a fan and couldn’t get enough of his music. I saw him one other time about five years ago. He was still amazing and original! I’m not at all happy about having to live in a world that does not include Prince, but he left us with so much great music to keep him alive. R.I.P. Prince

paisleyparkswizzleOnce I’d processed the news, I knew I would need an adult beverage when work was done. I also knew I wanted to find a way to pay tribute to this person who inspired me to dance, to be me without regard to what others might think, and to be a better musician. So I decided to create a cocktail in his honor. I present to you The Paisley Park Swizzle.


The ratios still need a tiny bit of tweaking, but the ingredients are as follows: White Panamanian rum, cinnamon syrup, creme de violette, lemon juice, fresh blueberries and blackberries. and a Raspberry Beret garnish.

Cheers, and Let’s Get Crazy!

The Myers Park Swizzle


There is a classic cocktail called the Queen’s Park Swizzle named after the Trinidadian hotel where it was created.  Well, the neighborhood I live in is called Myers Park and I like my cocktails just like my men … tall, spicy, and chill(ed) … so I decided to create the Myers Park Swizzle that incorporates some of my favorite ingredients. After a few total failures, I’ve come up with something I really like.

Myers Park Swizzle Recipe

image3 oz Caña Brava Rum
.5 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
1 oz Falernum
.75 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
3 dashes Cranberry Bitters
3 drops Bitterman’s Burlesque Bitters

Put all ingredients in a collins glass
Fill with crushed ice
Swizzle with a lele stick or bar spoon until the glass is frosty

I know it needs a garnish, but I have yet to decide what that will be.

A couple notes about the ingredients: any smooth white rum can be used. I chose Caña Brava because I wanted the ingredients to really relate to me, and this rum is from Panama, as is my mother.  Also I used B.G. Reynolds Falernum since I wanted a spicier flavor than I get from milder Falernums like Taylor’s Velvet.

Let me know how it goes if you give it a try.


I was on TV … sort of

I need to begin with a confession: I watch a lot of QVC, the shopping channel. It’s the default station when I can’t find anything else to watch and when I just want background noise to whatever else I’m doing, and since my cable box is whacked until I can dig out of the snow to exchange it, my viewing options are drastically reduced this weekend. So this evening, one of the hosts said she wanted to know what the viewers in the storm-affected areas were drinking tonight to stay warm. I had just made myself a Hot Buttered Rum since it’s below freezing here, so I went on her Facebook page and answered the question. Then I got bored and switched channels. Thirty minutes later my mom called and said “I know what you’re doing!” I asked her what it was she thought I was doing and she said “you’re watching QVC!” I said no and told her what I was actually watching. She said “but the host said Jennifer Essex was drinking Hot Buttered Rum.” So the host read my Facebook response on air after I’d changed channels. I guess that’s my three seconds of fame for this year. It can only go downhill from here. 😉


Rum tasting notes are on the way …

No, I haven’t abandoned this blog already.  I’ve been up to some experiments and explorations behind the scenes that will start showing up here in the next couple weeks.

Lately I’ve been taking the time to make “serious” tasting notes when sipping rums from my collection.  I’m happy to find that my notes (which I always try to make before reading others’ reviews or tasting notes provided by the brand) are usually not far off from what more experienced tasters have said.  This leads me to believe I may actually have a clue what I’m doing.  I’m new to trying to describe what I’m smelling/tasting and why I like (or don’t like) something.  Training my nose and taste buds to discern the various aromas and flavors in a product is a process which will take a bit more time, but at least I’ll (mostly) enjoy the process.  Watch this space! Cheers!