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Nov14

Pimento Dram

For the longest time I skipped over the unobtainable substance known as Pimento Dram when crafting the Bum’s recipes. It was in the same category of ingredients like longan from Morimoto’s new cookbook or black truffles from nearly every French cookbook I own. We have a Wegman’s, but they sure don’t sell high quality cocktail syrups. I thought that I’d find it one day, but I wasn’t in a rush. That is, until Tales of the Cocktail.

My first taste of pimento dram, as I said, was in New Orleans this year. Served in a small plastic cup, it looked like an unexciting dark brown syrup, except that I knew what it was. I picked it up and before it even got near my nose, I could smell the alluring aroma of allspice. My first sip was nothing short of breathtaking. The essence of tiki washed over me in a current of rum, rich sugar, and spices. Some of my favorite memories come from new tastes, and this one was locked into memory forever.

I returned home from my adventure and immediately began brewing my own batch of Pimento Dram. Not having gallons of demerara rum like my CA counterparts, I went with Jeff Berry’s recipe from Sippin’ Safari:

Pimento Dram

  • 1/4c whole allspice
  • 1c light Puerto Rican rum
  • 1/2 bottle light Puerto Rican rum
  • 1c water
  • 1lb demerara sugar

Grind allspice berries and mix with 1c rum in a pot. Bring to a boil and stir. Immediately pour into a bottle and fill it 3/4 full with more rum. Seal and store for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain 4000 times with cheesecloth. Make the syrup with the water and demerara sugar. Mix equal parts syrup with allspice rum. Bottle, seal, and let sit for 1 – 8 months. The flavor gets more pronounced and mellower the longer you wait. Obviously sample it throughout the process.

Sippin’ Safari, Jeff Berry

While I was waiting for my batch to age, I found a reliable source for Wray and Nephew pimento dram online. Marcia, from Raggae Treats, was a delight to deal with and my product arrived safe not more than a week after I ordered it.

I also see they have Old Tom gin. Anyone know how authentic this stuff is?

KP Questions

  • Have you made it? What recipe did you use?
  • What are your favorite exotic (or non-exotic) cocktails that contain pimento dram?
  • Does everyone enjoy making their own syrups or do you prefer purchasing them (at least the more time-intensive ones)?

18 Responses to “Pimento Dram”

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18 Comments to “ Pimento Dram”
  1. Wray & Nephew still make an Old-Tom?

    Now that might be worth investigating! I wonder if it is on a Cane Spirit base?

    I’ve tried the Boord’s Old-Tom and don’t think much of it.

  2. My lazy out-bum-the-bum recipe is here, but It’s really not Pimento Dram – more of a fast-allspice-liqueur-syrup really. It gets the job done while you wait for that next batch of the real stuff.

  3. DarcyNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve made a batch, a month and a bit ago, but I’ve yet to try it in a cocktail. I’ll letting it age a bit since it seemed very harsh right after it was made.

    I personally prefer to buy my syrups and such, as long ad they are quality products. It can be fun to make them once, but after that it becomes work.

  4. By the way, Haus Alpenz are working on bringing a Pimento liqueur into the US. According to their website, it should be available early next year.

  5. OuroborosNo Gravatar says:

    I made Pimento Dram in August on Paul’s recipe posted on Cocktail Chronicles, but added a few more spices. It was/is great, and his recipe is huge (around 1.5L of product).

    The Lion’s Tail cocktail got a great reception here, and I would recommend it to Darcy.

    I’m expecting to use quite of bit of the Pimento Dram in eggnog this winter.

  6. I made the recipe from Imbibe a while back, and love it. I’ve found that even though it’s a hassle I’d much rather make my own syrups since the flavors can be so much richer. I’m really happy with falernum #8, it has a very complex flavor. I just got a copy of IMBIBE! (the book) and now I need to get some gum arabic to make the gum syrup.

  7. PaulNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve only made Chuck’s recipe, as I’ve been so satisfied with the result I haven’t seen the need to try another one (plus, since you only use it in tiny amounts, a bottle lasts a loooooooong time.)

    I’ve also picked up a bottle of the Wray & Nephew product — mainly to compare it against the homemade — and find it very pleasant and similar to Chuck’s; maybe a bit smoother, a bit thicker mouthfeel (glycerin, I’m guessing), but flavorwise nearly indistinguishable.

    The Haus Alpenz product that you, Darcy, Chuck, Wes and I tried during that late-night session in July had potential, but from what I recall it wasn’t quite there; unfortunately I wasn’t taking notes that night, so I can’t recall exactly what was off, but knowing Eric I’m sure he’s worked to ensure that his allspice dram is an absolutely wonderful product. Maybe if Chuck wanders past, he could elaborate.

    As Darcy said, a homemade batch does need to rest a while to come to its full potential. I don’t typically use it very often, though I’ve found that adding anywhere between a dash and 1/4 oz to a Navy Grog or most any other tiki drink adds a new dimension. Eggnog, Tom & Jerrys and other type drinks really benefit from a gentle slug, as does a Christmas rum punch, and for my money Chuck’s Reveillon cocktail is a must-have for the holidays: apple brandy, Punt e Mes, pimento dram and pear eau de vie.

    I’m generally a big fan of the do-it-yourself approach, but only when you’re making something that otherwise can’t be easily found (like pimento dram) or which has lackluster commercial versions (such as falernum). I made my own orgeat once, but it was such a hassle that I’ve made do with commercial versions since; not to say I won’t try it again, but sometimes I question why I’m spending so much time and effort when I could pick up a similar product without much trouble.

  8. MartinNo Gravatar says:

    Pimento Dram:

    I have my own recipe, which uses the W&N overproof as the base, and I’ve also made Chuck’s Lemon Hart 151 version right now. Been very happy with the results of both. They are virtually indistinguishable when mixed in a cocktail.

    You’ll be interested to know that Berry Hill is made with grain neutral spirit, not rum. I assume the Old Tom is the same.

    Haus Alpenz is buying bulk Jamaican rum and shipping it to Austria for production. I think it will be a good product when all is said and done.

    I am trying to convince W&N to bring Berry Hill in at least small amounts stateside, maybe just for select on premise accounts (like me!)

    And yes, no question that homemade dram continues to improve greatly with time.

  9. Well, I’ve got some W&N Pimento Dram and Old-Tom on the slow boat from Jamaica.

    Will report back upon arrival.

  10. PhilNo Gravatar says:

    The Wray & Nephew Old Tom is totally crap. Doesn’t taste like the Old Toms from the 19th Century.
    A hand full of new Old Toms are available here in Europe for some weeks.

  11. seezeeNo Gravatar says:

    just decanted my 1st attempt at the dram. it’s a combination of chuck taggart’s & chad & christy’s recipe. now if only rick would send me the bumberry book he still ‘owes’ me so i can use it … :-(

    i’ll let you know how it turned out once i have some drink recipes to try it in.

    –cz

  12. seezeeNo Gravatar says:

    DRAT! never mind. sometime after midnight last night, the bottle EXPLODED. i’m still cleaning up the mess today. i have about 2 or 3 TBSP left in the mason jar in the fridge. i won’t get to put up another batch till this weekend, so it looks like my exotic tike season will be starting in august.

    AAARRRRGHHHGHGHH!

  13. [...] it was a helluva safe bet. You can find alternatives like Darcy O’Neil’s, Robert Hess’s, and Rick Stutz’s which mainly vary the type(s) or rum, add citrus, or add and change up the spiciness of the liqueur [...]

  14. Totally late to the party on this one, but after faffing about today with some homemade vanilla extract and an experimental spice extract (5 cinnamon sticks, 5 cloves and one halved nutmeg steeped in about 300 mL of vodka for 6 months) I have a question: is there a significant difference between straining through cheesecloth versus straining through filter paper (e.g., a coffee filter in a funnel)? If not too many extractives would get lost, it may be an easier technique. Anyone speak from experience on the amount of volatiles that could conceivably be lost to filter paper?

  15. seezeeNo Gravatar says:

    i found that the paper coffee filter was too fine & clogged up. i’d stick to a cheese-cloth lined funnel.

    –cz

  16. Good to know. Thanks, seezee!

  17. Limbo LizardNo Gravatar says:

    Before straining the alcohol/allspice mixture through cheesecloth or coffee filter paper, you should first saturate the filter with water. Then you won’t lose some of your extract, by having it soak into the filter medium. If you are filtering it several times, the lost extract adds up. Just a tip I remember from chem lab.

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

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