The dark liqueur is based on rum and was invented around the 1850s. In the mid-1900s, with the hype around Tiki cocktails, the liqueur experienced its peak in popularity. Today, Allspice Dram is celebrating a comeback in mixology, and you can find it again on the shelves of many bars.
Here's everything you need to know about the unusual cocktail ingredient. Also, if you intend to make a DIY version of this delicious liqueur, we also have a fantastic recipe and tips for how to make a bar-level, homemade Allspice Dram.
What is Allspice Dram?
Allspice Dram is a dark, sweet, spicy liqueur with an average ABV between 20 and 30%. It is made from dark rum and Allspice berries.
These berries are growing on Pimenta trees in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. Therefore, Allspice Dram is sometimes also referred to as Pimenta Dram.
In the Caribbean, allspice berries are also often used to season food like Jamaican jerk chicken or Mexican moles. Eventually, these unique berries made their way to the US, where Tiki Cocktail Culture quickly adopted them.
Tiki legends like Don the Beachcomber transformed the spicy flavor into the spiced Allspice Dram Rum liqueur.
The Taste of All Spice
Allspice berries are known for their bold spiciness combining many spicy flavors. The most prominent ones are cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This diversity is why they are descriptively called Allspice - and so is the liqueur made from these berries.
In liqueurs, you can often also detect notes of anise and mint, and the sweet, spicy Jamaican dark rum complements the complex mix of spices beautifully.
Why is it called Allspice DRAM?
In mixology, the term Dram refers to a small amount of liquor -officially 1/8 of an ounce, but practically, the term is quite flexible. In the case of the Allspice Dram, the term refers to the initial way of drinking the liqueur - neat and in small portions - drams.
Allspice, as mentioned above, is the modern name for the pimento berry native to the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica. These berries taste like a wintery spice mix of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all sorts of other things.
Ingredients in Allspice Dram
For making Allspice Dram, producers need Caribbean Rum and Allspice berries. But that's not where it stops. They add sweeteners, water, and other spices to the mix.
Here's a list of the most common elements - it's not exhaustive, though, because recipes vary and are kept secret:
- Jamaican Rum
- Allspice berries
- Cinnamon stick
- Anise pod
- Demerara sugar
Pimento Dram in Cocktails
If you are a fan of Tiki cocktails, you should stock up on Allspice Dram. And not only tropical drinks do benefit from the rich and spicy flavors. You find it in drinks like:
- The Lion's Tail: a mix of bourbon, allspice dram, lime, simple syrup, and bitters.
- Three Dots and a Dash: a complex mix rum and all kinds of liqueurs and juices
- or a Planter's Punch
- Navy Grog: the origin of modern Tiki Cocktail Culture
With just 0.5oz of this flavorful liqueur, you can bring a spicy kick to all sorts of classic cocktails, too:
- Glögg: Allspice Dram works great in warm and already spiced drinks. Add a bit to your next mulled wine or Glögg to intensify the spiciness.
- Old Fashioned: Allspice Dram goes perfectly with dark and aged spirits like Rum and Whiskey. Adding just a bit of the liqueur into an Old Fashioned can turn the cocktail into an even better and cozier drink.
- Rum Sour: Likewise, Pimento Dram enhances the rum-based Sour cocktail nicely.
- White Russian: A White Russian is a fantastic drink to spice up a bit. No matter if you add a bit of pumpkin-spiced syrup for the Pumpkin White Russian or Allspice Dram.
Origin and History of Allspice Dram
Allspice dram has its origin in Jamaica. There, it was known as pimiento dram (Spanish) and became known as "allspice" when the English got ahold of it.
According to the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, the liqueur has been available on a commercial level since the 1850s already. It also gets mentioned multiple times in the Catalogue of Articles Exhibited by the Royal Society of Arts from 1862.
In the following decades, Pimento Dram became a famed liqueur across Europe and the US. Back then, it was mainly distributed by the Jamaican company Wray & Nephew.
Drinks from the early 1900s, recipes like the Winter Cocktail and the Lion's Tail, highlighted the unique taste of this sweet & spicy ingredient. When the Tiki Cocktail movement was on full blast after the 1930s, Allspice really was a staple in bars.
Until the 1980s, it was easy to get a bottle of Allspice Dram in liquor stores all over the country. But at one point, the importation of the spiced liqueur stopped.
Thus, bartenders and home mixologists had to resort to making their own DIY Allspice Dram.
Today, as the interest in craft cocktails continues to increase, you can get bottles of the Rum liqueur in liquor stores again. However, honestly, making homemade Allspice Dram is easy and will also taste better.
How to Make DIY Allspice Dram At Home?
Homemade Allspice Dram is a fantastic way of bringing a warm spicy note to cocktails. Especially in Tiki cocktails, this sweet and spiced liqueur is a common ingredient.
The only problem with making DIY Allspice Dram is that you need time. -A lot of time. You should plan for 12 to 14 days to get enough flavor into the liqueur. But don't worry, most of it is the waiting time it requires to infuse the rum.
In the first step, you combine the rum with coarsely ground allspice berries. This mix needs to infuse for at least 4-5 days. During this time, give the mixture a good shake once a day.
Next, you add a cinnamon stick and an anise pod to the mix. This time the spice mix should sit for at least one week.
After that, you should strain the mix twice: first through a sieve, then through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to remove all residue of the berries and spices.
Combine the dark liquid with homemade Demerara syrup for the necessary sweetness for the liqueur, and let the mix sit in the fridge for another two days before using it.
The individual steps don't take much of your time and are straightforward.
- 1.5 cups Jamaican Rum
- 0.33 cups Allspice berries
- 1-2 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 Star anise pod
- 1 cup Demerara sugar
- 1 cup Water
- Crush the dried allspice berries with a mortar and pestle. But not too much. You need coarse and large pieces, not a fine grind.
- Add the Jamaican Rum and crushed allspice into a sealable jar and shake it before leaving it in a cold and dark place.
- Let the mix sit for 4-5 days, and shake the jar once a day.
- After 4-5 days, add the cinnamon stick(s) and anise pod to the mix. Shake again and let everything sit for another week.
- Shake the jar from time to time to ensure that all spices are infused properly.
- After seven days, strain the spiced Rum with the help of a sieve. Strain again with cheesecloth or coffee filter until all particles are removed.
- Heat the water and Demerara sugar in a pan and stir the mix until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Take the syrup from the heat and let it cool down.
- Next, combine syrup and allspice mix. Give it a shake, and let it sit for another two days in the fridge before using it in cocktails.
More DIY Cocktail Ingredients
- Falernum - another frequent Tiki cocktail ingredient.
- Orgeat - An almond-flavored liqueur that's essential in a Mai Tai.
- Homemade Banana Liqueur - Rich and flavorful DIY Banana liqueur made with dark rum.
- Homemade Grenadine - A homemade version that's much better than what you get in stores.
- Cream of Coconut - You got the wrong coconut product for your cocktails? Making your own cream of coconut is the solution.