So putting butter in your coffee is a thing. It's supposed to work as a breakfast replacement -- The caffeine wakes you up and the fat fills you up. The best-known variety is Bulletproof Coffee, popularized (and trademarked) by Dave Asprey, who our friend L.V. Anderson describes as a "professional biohacker / megalomaniac".
The first time I heard about buttered coffee was earlier this year. I was drinking a coffee ice cream-flavored coffee and reading about my favorite drink on the internet when I came across several articles extolling the virtues of adding butter to coffee—not just any kind of coffee, mind you, fancy coffee—and this glorified milkshake claimed to burn fat and boost energy.
It sounds too good to be true, and based on L.V.'s tepid reaction, I suspect it is. But buttering your beverages has potential. After all, Tibetan mountain folks blend yak butter into hot tea, and minors at Disneyland love their butterbeer.
So as I looked at my energy-sapping coffee ice cream-coffee I wondered, what other hot drinks are best served with a pat of butter? I set out to find out.
Buttered Apple Cider
The recipe was simple: put a cup of apple cider in a pot with cinnamon sticks, a spoon of dark brown sugar, a few whole cloves, and stir in a pat of butter. My entire apartment smelled like an orchard full of apple pies—quite the accomplishment for a Brooklyn loft.
The result was a tart cider, warmed with fall spices and emboldened with a bit of unsalted butter. The butter added a hearty backbone to the cup and creates a cappuccino-like foamy top. As I watched it reducing in the pot, I also thought this would make an insane apple cider caramel for candy, or as a topping on popcorn and nuts.
Next in the buttered beverage experiment was this yuletide tradition. I've never been a fan of warm alcohol or rum at any temperature, but I tried to set aside my prejudices and poured a generous cup of rum to prepare.
The making of buttered rum is more fun than expected: combine a pat of unsalted butter with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar and a little honey in a small bowl. Scoop this buttery mixture up with a spoon, pour a glug of rum in a mug and place the spoon in the rum. Fill the mug with hot water and stir the butter in.
By now I knew what to expect: the heady rush of baking spices, the butter quickly dissolving and the milkfat separating to create a cute cappuccino foam. Even though there was a lot of rum, the spices, heat and fat evened out the alcohol. Adding the aforementioned buttered apple cider would probably be the best idea of all.
Last I tried Tibetan buttered tea, which is traditionally served in chilly high altitudes in the Himalayas. This recipe is the most involved and is also prepared in the same way as Bulletproof Coffee. Pick a loose-leaf black tea you like and pour boiling water in the mug. Steep for a few minutes until the tea is a little stronger than you’d normally drink it. (It will be diluted with milk and butter.) Strain the tea and add a pat of unsalted butter and a pinch of salt. Pour it all in a blender and pulse until you see the foam coming together. Fill a mug halfway with the tea and fill the rest of the way with warm whole milk or half and half and top with cinnamon.
This beverage is not for the faint of heart—it’s rich, sweet, heavy and unexpectedly salty. The pinch of salt is meant to pique thirst and keep you drinking, and the caffeine picks up your attention to all the other flavors going on. For tea nerds who are looking for a new cold-weather drink and don’t mind a little extra dairy, take this to go and stay warm all winter.
Editor’s note: Each beverage was made for one serving. Like a lot of other recipes, I like to Google around and apple-pick ingredients from the tastiest-looking recipes together and eliminate non-essential ingredients that I don’t have on hand. From there, the preparation for the recipe is similar across the board. Eyeballing each of these ingredients and adjusting spices to taste is the key to building a great beverage here.
Base recipes (adjust spices to taste, cherry-pick your favorite ingredients):
Buttered apple cider: Bon Appetit
Hot buttered rum: Food Network
Tibetan butter tea (po cha): Serious Eats