The trick to this recipe is using a blender and high-proof alcohol to quickly extract the flavorful essential oils and aromatics from common kitchen spices.
I scoured the egullet forums to come up with this recipe – many different variations exist. The spices used are very easily filtered out using an aeropress and the overall price of the project comes out to something like $6. Definitely a good alternative to buying the commercial stuff.
Instant Allspice (Pimento) Dram
Yields about 650mL – almost a whole bottle.
- 50g allspice (about 1/2 cup)
- 6 black peppercorns
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 a nutmeg
- 225 mL overproof (151) rum
- 300 g sugar
- 300 g water
Combine all ingredients except sugar and water in a blender. Blend on low for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, use the sugar and water to make 1:1 simple syrup. Remove the blended spices and rum from the blender and strain using the aeropress method or triple-layered cheesecloth. Combine with the simple syrup and you are DONE.
How does homemade compare to the “good stuff”?
Even though the whole point of starting this allspice endeavor was to avoid paying $30 for a bottle of allspice dram, I bought a bottle for comparison’s sake.
St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram was the talk of many a cocktail blog when it first reappeared in the U.S. a few years ago. Allspice dram is featured in many great tiki drinks and adds a a great bitterness and depth to any other drink.
Pouring my homemade dram (left) side-by-side with the St. Elizabeth’s product (right), it was immediately clear that the homemade version ended up cloudier. However, my cloudy concoction had just as much body as the St Elizabeth’s and only a slightly lighter flavor. The cloves were heavier in the homemade as well.
The big difference, however, is that the St. Elizabeth’s dram has a distinct and slightly unpleasantly astringent aftertaste. It leaves your mouth feeling dry – the way it feels after eating an un-ripe banana.
But then again, no one sips allspice dram. In a Lion’s Tale, I enjoyed the bitter after taste. But in most tiki drinks, I preferred the homemade version.
Conclusion and some geeky stuff
So was my simple and fast homemade allspice dram better than the commercial bottle? Debatable. Suffice it to say, though, that at about five times the price of home-made, I doubt I’ll ever buy allspice dram again.
Here are some things to ponder:
- The cloudiness seen in the homemade allspice dram is most likely caused by essential oils that failed to fully dissolve in the liquor. Commercial distillers most likely use steam distillation to extract oils and then add only as much as can be fully dissolved.
- I created my recipe ingredient amounts to fill a 750 mL bottle and was confused when I ended up with only about 650mL of product. The answer lies in the density changes that occur when you mix sugar, alcohol, and water. Sugar combined with water is less dense than unmixed volumes added. The same is true of alcohol and water. When you mix all three… strange things happen.
What’s your favorite use for allspice dram?