People tend to think of a hummer as a summertime sipper. The cocktail is, after all, a frozen treat. The boozy beverage can be traced back to two different Detroit-area bartenders who blended white rum and Kahlúa with vanilla ice cream in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While it originated in the Motor City, it seems to have migrated north in more modern times and is today a favorite among Northern Michigan’s woody boat set. I’ve seen them served at the historic Cupola Bar at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, at the Hack-Ma-Tack Inn, a restaurant housed in an 1894 fishing lodge on the Cheboygan River, and at Leland’s Riverside Inn—the century-old eatery that sold them to-go during lockdown.
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I first learned how to make the Michigan dessert drink in high school, when we discovered a vintage blender deep in the cupboards of a friend’s Walloon Village cottage. Today, I swap the Kahlúa for coffee liqueur from Mammoth Distilling, Ann Arbor Distilling or Eastern Kille. A friend of mine, who started slinging drinks at her family’s Detroit-area tavern at age 18 and spent many subsequent years behind the bar, insists that hummers are even better during the holidays. She’s got a point. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream make a lot more sense in the comfort of your Christmas jammies than during swimsuit season.
Holiday Hummer Recipe
- 1 candy cane
- 1 1⁄2 ounces white rum
- 1 1⁄2 ounces coffee liqueur
- 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
- 4 ice cubes
Place candy cane into a Ziplock bag and whack with the back of a bar spoon or kitchen mallet until crushed. Place crushed candy onto a small plate. Pour a shallow amount of water onto a second small plate. Set the rim of your cocktail glass first into the water, then into the candy, coating the edge of the glass. Set aside. Into a blender, add rum, coffee liqueur, ice cream and ice cubes and blend on high speed until the ice cubes stop clattering and the mixture is smooth but still thick. Quickly pour into the glass with crushed peppermint candy, and serve immediately.
Photo by Dave Weidner
Stacey Brugeman is a Leelanau County-based food and beverage writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater and Denver’s 5280, where she served as Restaurant Critic. Follow her on Instagram @staceybrugeman.