Butter Us Up

Clinton Street's hot buttered cider
photo: Lisa Jellinek

A roll should be buttered. A drink should not be. That sage reasoning has always guided us away from buttered rums and ciders. We envisioned imprudent concoctions of oily water with globules of greasy fat congealing at the sides. Sure, call it hot buttered rum. It's clearly the same noxious fluid hot-dog vendors float day-old wieners in.

Until, on a chilly evening, we find ourselves at Clinton Street Baking Co. for supper—attempting to avoid the award-winning wait that accompanies award-winning brunches. Clinton Street's dinner entrees may not yet be on par with the breakfast offerings, but its cocktail menu certainly warrants more accolades. The classic old-fashioned is properly stiff, the delicately-spiced jalapeño blood orange margarita arrives not in a glorified wine glass but in a generous tumbler—spiked with Cabo Wabo tequila, Sammy Hagar's sole contribution to society.

We decide to take a chance with the hot buttered cider.

Jesus Christ. One sip, and we push aside the accompanying dessert, a hearty, delectable peach cobbler in favor of the cider. Imagine our surprise: This was life-altering, planetary-alignment changing cider, inspiring a love that can move mountains, the kind of love of which only Celine Dion can truly sing. Where were the lines for this ambrosia in a beverage, holy elixir of the apple gods, whomever we're imagining the apple gods to be? We'd call it the cocktail of 2006 if it hadn't quietly sat on the menu for two years already.

We hunt down the relatively simple recipe, which co-owner DeDe Lahman kindly provides. The secret ingredient turns out to be Clinton Street's famed maple butter, the same maple butter they serve on their wild Maine blueberry pancakes, the same maple butter that moved one elated customer to scrawl across the cash register: "I want to wipe that warm maple butter all over my body."

Clinton Street Baking Co.'s Hot Buttered Cider

2 shots maple butter, fresh maple syrup with melted butter whisked in
1 1/2 shots of Bacardi Gold rum
Fresh apple cider (Clinton uses Samascott Orchards from upstate New York)
Cinnamon stick

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