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Amateur Hour

A Dreamy Allspice Valentine

by | Feb 13, 2021

I realize the allspice dram has been the cocktailers thing to make for nearly a decade now, as the vintage cocktail revival is fully underway, but I don’t think the movement will let up anytime soon, and I am here for that. I’m especially enthusiastic for this “pimento” dram, a West Indian liqueur that has since also become known as allspice dram — which makes it clear the pimento in question is not to be confused with the stuff one might find inside an olive. This pimento is allspice, which comes from the dried berry of the Pimenta dioica tree. It is suggestive of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves all at once, hence its name.

Allspice dram became so popular across Europe and America that it was bottled commercially for a while. Drinks from the early 1900s, like the Winter Cocktail and the Lion’s Tail (a 1930s mix of bourbon, allspice dram, lime, simple syrup and aromatic bitters), showed off the unique taste of this sweet-spicy spirit. It had found popularity during the mid-19th century with the rise of the Tiki cocktails. However, the allspice dram fell out of favor for a spell, and was nowhere to be found in the 1980s, until the vintage cocktail revival brought it back.

I didn’t have a lot of allspice berries left in my witches’ cabinets (as my boyfriend calls the cabinets and drawers I’ve taken over with bottles of spices, herbs, dried flowers and other items I also use for spells and various mysterious witchy purposes), but I also threw in some nutmeg, cardamom and cloves.

A word of advice: Start the dram now, as it takes about 14 days to make, so it will be ready just in time for a spicy Valentine! Try the dram out with the early 19th century vintage cocktail recipe The Golden Tail. The dram is a component of a lot of classic recipes, so have fun!

photo/Jessie Lacey

DIY Allspice Dram
1 cup light rum
1/4 cup whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cup water
2/3 cup brown sugar

Crush the allspice berries into coarse, large pieces, place the crushed allspice (and other spices) in a sealable glass jar and pour the rum on top. Seal the jar and shake well. Let this mixture steep for four days, shaking daily. On Day 5, break up the cinnamon stick and add it to the mixture.

After 12 days of steeping, strain out the solids through a fine-mesh strainer. Then strain again through a coffee filter into your final bottle or jar.

Heat water and sugar until boiling, stirring to dissolve — about five minutes. Let the syrup cool, then add it to the strained allspice infusion. Shake and then let rest for a minimum of two days before using.

The Golden Tail
2 oz whiskey
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz honey simple (2:1 ratio raw honey to water)
.25 oz allspice dram
2 dashes chocolate bitters 

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a chilled coupe. Express the oils from a lemon peel over the top of the drink and discard the peel.

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