Friday, January 25, 2013

Allspice (Pimento) Dram

I recently made some friends from Jamaica, and in addition to loving their music, I learned that we also share a love of healthy food including fish, fresh fruit and lots of spice.  They sang beautiful music to me, and I was happy to be able to give them things they appreciated in return: local San Francisco honey and Meyer lemons grown in Berkeley by my mother. Since then I’ve been looking at this adorable booklet of Jamaican recipes from 1963 (Leila Brandon’s Merry Go Round of Recipes from Jamaica) and wanting to make something, but much of the ingredients are extremely unfamiliar. A recipe for Pimento Dram caught my eye, which I know as an ingredient in many classic Tiki Drinks, and which I also know to be an expensive liqueur to purchase. Even the tiny vintage airplane bottle that I have once cost $8.70 (according to the
price tag still on it from the shop called “All Things Jamaican”) so I figured this project could save me some money. 
Rather than buying St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram for $25, which is indeed excellent but pricy (and in a tall bottle that annoyingly won’t fit in my cabinet) I decided to make my own. The procedure seemed simple enough, though Ms. Brandon’s recipe called for fresh allspice berries (which I couldn’t find) and lots of fresh lime juice (which might not be stable at room temp over time) so I went to the trusty Interweb to look for a different recipe, and was happily able to find a similar one, which I provide for you here. If you love the flavor of pumpkin pie spice (which comes mainly from allspice berries, also known as pimento), you’ll adore this liqueur. It takes a couple of weeks to make, but is well worth it.
In addition to traditional Tiki drinks, allspice dram is called for in many cocktails such as the delicious 1937 Lion’s Tail (see below) and also tastes yummy over vanilla ice cream or as a flavoring for a delicious flan. Brew some up today and thank me in a fortnight. 
Allspice Dram: 
1 cup light rum
¼ cup whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 ½ cups water
2/3 cup brown sugar
1. 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.
2. 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. 
3. 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.
4. 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. (Yield: about 3 cups)
Lion’s Tail (1937)
2oz Bourbon
½ oz Allspice Dram
½ oz Line Juice
1 tsp. Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake over ice, strain; serve straight up in chilled cocktail glass.

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