Down in the West Indies there is a little tree that early Spanish explorers called a “pimienta” tree meaning pepper or peppercorn. The English later anglicised the name to Pimento.
But don’t get confused with the variety of chilli pepper that you often see stuffing olives, the Pimento we’re taking about produces wonderful spicy berries and is completely different.
In fact, the Pimento berries once tasted by the British explorers of the 18th century had such a wonderful spice that they gave the berries themselves a new name.
Encapsulate the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, the British nicknamed the berries Allspice.
From Berry To The Bar
Recently considered one of the forgotten liqueurs, the Pimento or Allspice Dram, has been made for generations in Jamaica and has the ability to ‘wake up’ a drink and make its other ingredients taste most fully like themselves.
Now while you might think that the Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove spices would make the Dram a purely winter Liqueur, it has shown its versatility in a number of Tiki drinks. Really, a Liqueur for all seasons, Allspice Pimento Dram is as equally at home in a classic cocktails as it is in a Tiki or tropical drink.
Add a little of the Dram to anything from a Bloody Mary to a Ramos fizz, or a Screwdriver to an Old-Fashioned and it will always taste good.
Make It At Home
There are two main companies that are making Allspice Pimento Dram – St Elizabeth’s and Bitter Truth – although there are a additional number of smaller, regional producers now.
But, if these are a little hard to find, as is often the case with ingredients that are a little obscure, Imbibe Magazine offers two recipes that will fill the void.
Chuck’s Jamaican Pimento Dram (Allspice Liqueur) No. 3
- 2-1/4 cups 151-proof Demerara rum
- 1/2 cup whole dried allspice berries, crushed
- 3 cups water
- 1-1/2 lb. brown sugar
Crush the allspice berries in a mortar and place in a 1-liter jar with a rubber seal. Cover with the rum and allow to steep for at least 10 days, agitating the maceration daily.
Pour through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquor as you can, then pour the strained liquor maceration through another strainer lined with a coffee filter (this’ll take a while).
Make a simple syrup with the water and brown sugar; heat until dissolved, then allow to cool. When cool, combine with the rum maceration and allow to age for at least one month. Decant and enjoy.
This will almost fill two 750 ml. bottles (we use the ones they sell fizzy French lemonade in, because of that nifty resealing rubber-lined ceramic stopper), so you can cut the recipe in half to makes less, unless you want to give some away.
Chad & Christy’s Pimento Dram
- 2 cups Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum
- 1/2 cup Myer’s Dark Jamaican Rum
- 1/2 cup whole Allspice Berries
- 3 cups Water
- 680g (1 1/2 lbs.) granulated White Sugar
- 1 oz. Angostura Bitters
- 1 oz. burnt Sugar
Crush the allspice berries with a mortar and place in a glass jar. Cover with the rum and seal tightly. Let the mixture steep for 14 days, agitating daily. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (like a chinois) pressing on the solids to extract as much of the spiced rum as you can. Pour the liquid again through a coffee filter.
Make a 1:1 simple syrup using your sugar and water, using gentle heat and stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool, then add it to the infused rum along with the Angostura and the burnt sugar. Bottle the mixture in two clean/sterilized 750 ml. bottles and let it rest for 1 month. After that, go crazy with it.
As Imbibe point out, both of these versions are preparation-intensive, but the the resulting liqueur is excellent, incredibly versatile and well worth the effort.