Build-A-Bar: Allspice Dram
Back in the saddle, again, courtesy of the Tradewinds Toddy.
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
I'll excuse you for thinking this column was kaput. It's kind of felt that way. Between a hectic schedule over the past few months and a few cold-and-allergy related palate deaths, I've had neither the time nor the wherewithal to keep up. On the upside, the wherewithal part actually provided some inspiration for this post.
Allspice Dram is another fairly recent revival from the folks over at Haus Alpenz. A modern take on the Caribbean cocktail mainstay pimento dram (wise rebranding, no?), this liqueur marries rum and allspice berries in a sweet, spicy, dusky, and subtly tannic spirit best used in moderation.
I find it very interesting that Allspice Dram seems to call out for citrus and freshness as much as it evokes cold winter nights by the hearth, warming drinks and holiday cheer. Historically, it's used in those diverging directions, finding as much affinity in Tiki mugs as in mulled wine.
The latter provided my inspiration, as I was struggling to devise an original recipe while simultaneously struggling with my sinuses during one of the year's first cold snaps. Sniffling my way through a few drink permutations, I decided to make something that might make me feel better, in addition to tasting good.
Growing up, I remember my mom being a firm devotee of the Toddy. Hers hewed more toward a simple cup of hot tea, enriched with a squeeze of honey, a lemon slice, and a good shot of whiskey. She didn't measure, and she didn't drink these for pleasure, although I'm sure she preferred it to Robitussin.
I decided to stick with the theme of simplicity, allowing the pure flavors to shine through and complement one-another. The result was deliciously spicy, slightly sweet, and utterly soothing. I've since made it a few times, swapping out the base liquor but keeping the common current of Allspice Dram, honey, and lemon. Calvados makes a particularly interesting variant.
- 1.5 oz Bourbon (or spirit of choice)
- Barspoon Honey
- Barspoon Allspice Dram
- 6 oz Hot Water
- Lemon Slice
Combine bourbon, honey, and Allspice Dram in an 8 oz. glass (I used an Irish Whiskey glass) and stir thoroughly to distribute honey. Add hot water (should be just short of boiling) and stir again to combine. Float the lemon wheel on top.
After a few minutes, the heat of the drink will draw the flavor out of the lemon, adding just the right amount of citrusy brightness. Make sure you drink this while it's hot.
If you're not feeling under the weather, or would prefer a cooler take on this spicy ingredient, the Lion's Tail seems the go-to cocktail, although I've been able to uncover precious little about it. Marrying Allspice Dram with bourbon, again, the Lion's Tail plays to Allspice Dram's strong suite of dark flavors, adding a brightening jolt of lime to keep things a little lighter, further freshening things with a quick turn through a shaker. It's almost the yang to the Tradewind Toddy's yin, and a delightful drink with which to bridge these shoulder months, when the thermostat seems in constant flux.
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce allspice liqueur
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients over ice in cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Most recipes seem to call for somewhere between a dash and half an ounce of simple syrup; I think this makes for an overly sweet cocktail. As it is, the citrus and spice play well with the inherent sweetness of the dram, and the caramel, pepper, and wood overtones of the bourbon.
**As a side note, I'm also working on one for my wife, whose love of bubbles means I end up combining everything with Champagne, eventually. A quick apertif of sparkling wine and Allspice Dram, with a few blackberries muddled at the bottom of each flute, got the gears turning. The drink was tasty, but ugly. The muddled berries clouded the glass and left a purplish scum lining the walls after the champagne was added. My plan is to make a blackberry syrup, mixing that with Allspice Dram and its Champagne topper, the berries tossed in to pretty things up. I've also got my eye on a fig version.
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