How to Use Allspice Dram Liqueur in Cocktails, Plus 6 Recipes

Once an elusive ingredient known for its mention in historical recipes, allspice dram has established itself as a versatile backbar staple in recent years. Building on the flavor of allspice berry — which gets its modern name from the all-encompassing aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove it channels — the namesake Jamaican liquor has long been used to add complexity to a number of tropical tiki classics, including the Three dots and a hyphen and navy grog.

But tiki bartenders faced a challenge in the early 1980s when Wray & Nephew, then the only commercial producer of allspice dram, stopped exporting to the United States. “For the first 15 years that I researched and published ‘lost’ tiki drinks, it was nowhere to be found in the US,” recalls Jeff “Beachbum” Berry the bar of New Orleans latitude 29. “My first four books had to include a recipe for make-your-own allspice dram.”

St. John Frizell of Brooklyn Fort defiance and Sunken Harbor Club, recalls a similar experience in the early 2000s: “It was one of those things that I came across in recipes a few times, but I kind of wrote it [it] like, ‘Oh, I’ll never see that.'”

That changed in 2008 when house Alpenz started importing an Austrian-made version called St Elizabeth Allspice Drama simple blend of allspice, raw sugar, and Jamaican pot still rum. It was an instant hit.

Since then, other versions have become available, including that of The bitter truth and Hamilton. Its applications have also expanded: bartenders use it in classics like the Victorian era Agricole Rhum Punchas well as modern drinks, mostly to deepen the taste of a drink.

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“The result can be anything from aromatic to bizarrely tactile and dry,” explains Kirk Estopinal of the New School Tiki Bar in New Orleans stick & table. In his full sun Recipe uses Estopinal half an ounce of allspice dram to add baked spice notes to the quasi-tropical blend of vodka, coconut milk and lime juice. Likewise, a helping of allspice dram complements the aged rum base of Miguel and Milo Salehi’s Miami Vice Riff, the Miami Nicewhich gives the frozen fruit drink a spicy character.

Meanwhile, Berry dials it back further and uses the liqueur as an aromatic accent in his old sailor. To a split rum base — part Jamaican rum, part Demerara rum — and fresh lime and grapefruit juices, he adds a quarter ounce of allspice dram, bringing richness and depth of flavor to a relatively simple rum sour submission.

Aside from tropical drinks, the liqueur has found its way into cold-weather cocktails, as has the eponymous spice in fall and winter dishes. An Italian variant of the Lion’s Tail Baltimore bartender Amie Ward, for example, uses allspice dram to balance the drink’s rich bourbon base and bitter amaro. And to an already flavorful rye base, New Orleans resident Chris Hannah adds the liqueur and enhances its flavor with allspice bitters winter waltz. Jeffrey Morgenthalers flannel shirt is particularly autumnal, combining Scotch, cider and rich Demerara syrup with allspice dram to cover the flavors of the season: apple, earth, spice and smoke. Morgenthaler says, “It reminds me of a hot drink you drank on Thanksgiving morning—only served cold.”

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Regardless of the type of beverage it is incorporated into, allspice is best used sparingly. “It’s really like bitter,” says Frizell. “You use it like salt and pepper.” Estopinal agrees: “Using it subtly,” he says, “is an art form.”

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