Infusing liquor! Not as difficult as it sounds. Turns out, if you’ve got a bit of time and attention to spare, you can infuse your own batches for holiday gifts, and have leftovers to learn how to make some great cocktails, too. Today I am going to tell you how to create your own allspice dram. After the recipe, I’ll give you some ideas for what cocktails to make, perfect for warming us during these long winter nights.
Allspice dram is a massively underrated ingredient in cocktails. If you want to impress your mixologist frenemies, or are just looking to try something new, you’d better block off the next month for some dram-makin’. Allspice is the dried berry of a tropical evergreen. Named for its scent and taste, which are similar to spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, people commonly think allspice is a mix of different spices. You’ve probably had it before in Caribbean cuisine, for instance in jerk chicken. I use it in gingerbread. It is widely available in grocery stores, and you can find it ground into a fine powder or in whole berry form. For some reason, allspice dram is also frequently referred to as pimento dram, but that’s confusing to me so never do it.
This is the recipe you can use to infuse your own batches of allspice dram (via Serious Eats).
Makes 3 cups, infusing time 14 days
- 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 in a mortar and pestle or grind them in a spice grinder. You want coarse, large pieces and not a fine grind.
- Place the crushed allspice in a sealable glass jar and pour the rum on top. Seal the jar and shake well. Let this mixture steep for 4 days, shaking daily. On day 5, break up the cinnamon stick and add it to the mixture.
- After 12 days total 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 on medium until boiling, stirring to dissolve, about 5 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.
After purchasing the whole berries (pictured at left, posing as peppercorns), use a mortar and pestle to grind up the spice. Freshly ground spices yield much more flavor, and that’s the benefit of doing it by hand. That, and great, muscle-y forearms.
It will not look very appetizing after you’ve added the ground allspice to the rum. But following long weeks of waiting, adding a cinnamon stick, more waiting…. adding simple syrup, a little more waiting…
You’ll end up with this! The fruit of your labor.
So now that you’ve made (or purchased, if you just came here for the cocktail instructions) a whole lot of dram, let’s see what we can do with it.
The two most popular cocktails featuring allspice dram are called the Lion’s Tail and the Lion’s Mane. They are very similar, except that the Mane has an egg white in it. Here’s the recipe:
- 2 ounces of bourbon
- ¾ ounce allspice dram
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- [½ egg white for the Mane]
Procedure: Add to a cocktail shaker with some ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled glass.
The Lion’s Tail is sharp and pleasing, very well suited to higher-end bourbon. A cheaper version might make this taste too bitter.
Next up! The Soothsayer.
This cocktail features muddled sage! What fun, what whimsy! The recipe also calls for maple syrup, but you can use honey or agave nectar as a substitute. The Soothsayer tasted refreshing in ways the Lion’s Tail didn’t, and the fresh herbs made it seem more of a late summer/early autumn drink.
Caribbean Iced Latte
For an interesting twist on Irish coffee, try a Bailey’s Independence on Ice.
This drink could certainly use a better name, something featuring the interesting allspice flavors melding with the coffee and cream notes. Dramuccino? A Caribbean iced latte perhaps? I’m trademarking it.
A final allspice dram cocktail recipe is at this link, called the Ancient Mariner. Apparently, it’s a classic, featuring grapefruit juice and healthy extr serving of rum in the mix.
Amongst all four of these cocktails, the dram’s spiciness is a consistent undercurrent, a warming flavor that inspires comfort. If it weren’t for the Soothsayer, I would have assumed allspice dram for Winter cocktails only. After attempting to make it myself, I can confidently state a bottle of this dram would make a great gift if you’re looking for some DIY presents, though keep in mind how long it takes to finish. Happy mixing and drinking!