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Lion's Tail and Allspice Liqueur

Lion's TailDuring the cooler months of winter it seems like everyone is interested in baking spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice are seasonal favorites. Micro breweries start to churn out winterfest beer selections and cocktail bars start infusing spirits. Winter drinks are great—who doesn't love a warm toddy or a Hot Buttered Rum to help block that chill in the air? It's easy to get into the spirit of such flavors by selecting certain ingredients and recipes that use them. Liqueurs like Becherovka and Drambuie are good options because they bring a spiced element to cocktails, but today, we will take a look at Pimento Dram, also known as allspice liqueur.

One of the forgotten recipes that appears in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails  is a drink called the Lion's Tail. It's a wonderful classic that features this resurrected ingredient. With a little bourbon, some lime juice and a fresh batch of gomme syrup (yes, simple syrup will also suffice), you can take the allspice dram to new heights. If we didn't know better we might categorize this alongside Tiki recipes. Of course, nothing is stopping you from serving it over crushed ice in your favorite mug. Something tells us this one would taste as good on a hot day as it does over a winter holiday weekend.

Lion's Tail
2 oz bourbon
.5 oz pimento dram (allspice liqueur)
.5 oz lime juice
.25 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Ancient Mariner Detail with Tattooed Lime Wedge

Ancient Mariner Detail with 'Tattooed' Lime Wedge

We're not sure whether this cocktail gets it's name from the orange brown color or the fact that the 'bite' of allspice will have you 'roaring' with pleasure. Either way, we can't help being inspired by the king of the jungle to follow this counter-programming mindset a little further into Tiki-dom. It seems natural to yearn for the tropics as the days get shorter. If you are missing the warm glow of the sun on your face and and bourbon is not your style, perhaps some rum might suit you better.

The Ancient Mariner is a contemporary cocktail by Jeff Berry. It appeared in his Grog Log and later in Beachbum Berry Remixed and it's definitely worth your attention. Some have described it as a drink that is similar to a Mai Tai, although that's not exactly correct. Rum and lime over crushed ice is never a bad start, so if you enjoy a classic Mai Tai you'll probably like this. The Ancient Mariner is deceptively drier than you might expect looking at the ingredients, and we especially love that it contains white grapefruit juice—a fantastic ingredient in any cocktail. The allspice is featured here in smaller quantity, but it still manages to have a strong impact on the overall flavor.

Our cabinet currently contains just one Demerara rum at the moment: Lemon Hart 151. While it may not be the most respectable way to use it given available alternatives like aged El Dorado, we feel perfectly justified diluting our Lemon Hart by mixing a half ounce 1-to-1 with water. The flavor of this important rum is so prominent you can get away with reducing the alcohol content this way now that it's no longer on the endangered species list. This, combined with some Smith & Cross Jamaican rum makes for a deliciously spiced tropical refreshment that has surprising depth and character. We decorated our lime wedge with tattoos (any truly ancient mariner would approve).

Ancient Mariner
1 oz Demerara rum
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz white grapefruit juice
.5 oz gomme syrup
.25 oz pimento dram (allspice liqueur)

Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour the whole works into a double old fashioned or rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.

Mixing with pimento liqueur (we use St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram) doesn't have to rely on recipes. Just a dash will transform any existing favorite into something new and exciting. One example worth mentioning was a drink we tried at Zig Zag cafe in Seattle. Erik Hakkinen threw together a spicy Dark and Stormy using Smith & Cross rum, ginger syrup, soda and a splash of allspice dram. It was fantastic!

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4 comments to Lion's Tail and Allspice Liqueur

  • mindtron

    I just tried making a Lion's Tail recently and really loved it.

    If you haven't tried before, I can also recommend making your own Allspice Dram. I've used the Serious Eats recipe (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/02/diy-allspice-dram-make-your-own-st-elizabeths-pimento-dram-recipe.html) with Wray & Nephew to very good results (I keep mine in the fridge and it seems to last a very long time).

    • Thanks for the link. I was actually about to make my own a couple of years ago when somewhat coincidentally my local shop had a bottle of St. Elizabeth. It was probably one of the benefits of living in the Twin Cities at the time--the same place importer Haus Alpenz calls home. Once I had the commercial product (which may last a very long time at this rate) making my own became a low priority. In some respects I wish I had made it just to be able to share the experience.

      I am curious how the flavor stacks up. Have you compared yours with one of the commercial products?

  • mindtron

    I tried makingmine because I had so few recipes that used Allspice Dram at the time, but I did have overproof rum and some allspice berries at home.

    I haven't had the chance to try mine side by side with St. Elizabeth, but I brought a sample into Marvel Bar and got postive comments from them. Their take was that it was a bit more 'tropical' possibly due to the Wray & Nephew.

    • That seems like a good adjective! It would be hard to argue that it wasn't an endorsement. Whenever I run out I'll be making my own. I think Bitter Truth makes one too. I bet someone in the cocktail blogosphere has done a comparison among these with a homemade option. If not it might be an interesting little project some day. Perhaps I'll set some aside for when the time comes.

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