Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comAllspice liqueur. Allspice dram. Pimento dram. Christmas in a bottle. Whatever you call it, this fragrant, spicy liqueur is an essential item in lots of drinks, especially of the Tiki kind. In fact, I believe the first time I came across this ingredient was while I was trying to make all the drinks from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s classic cocktail book, Grog Log. I rushed out to get a bottle and found that I was out of luck. 7 years ago not many liquor stores out there were carrying it, and this was in Los Angeles, a major city where you’re supposed to find everything.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comLuckily in my search to source hard to find ingredients two things happened:

  1. I found a handful of stores that actually stocked most of these unusual items
  2. I got my hands on recipes to make what I couldn’t find

So now I always had two choices when it came to hard to find bottles, make or buy. And that brings us to today and our first item in this new series on the site, allspice liqueur.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comLet’s start with what you can buy. While there are a few companies making the product, the first one I found on the market, and the brand that I’ve found the easiest to buy, is St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. There are multiple online liquor stores that will ship it to you if your state allows that. The St. Elizabeth brand is dark amber in color and very heavy on the clove. It’s not too sweet or syrupy and has secondary spices in the nose and flavor such as cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. The price point hovers around $24-$30.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comOn the other hand you can make the liqueur. Allspice berries can be found in bulk online for relatively cheap meaning you can scale up or down depending on your needs. For example, local favorite bar The Tong Hut makes their own allspice liqueur for all their drinks so they can buy in large bags and make a giant batch. But, you also can make a much smaller amount if you’re only sparingly using it. Infusing takes some time, around 4 weeks. And you’ll need to invest in a base liquor. This method allows for much flexibility in flavors as you can use anything from a neutral spirit (like Everclear) to an aged rum (like Appleton 12 year). My version using the recipe below has a balanced flavor of baking spices. I chose not to go too heavy on the clove (personal preference) so this recipe is much more subtle than the St. Elizabeth in that respect. The color is also more golden and cloudy. The mouthfeel is more rich and syrupy. It’s definitely allspice, but a different version than the store-bought.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThere are definite pros and cons for each option. While St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram is easy to come by where I am, and I’m in a state that I can get liquor shipped to my house, YOU might not have either option available to you. And while anyone can get some allspice berries shipped to their house, YOU may or may not be into a project that will take up to a month to get a finished product.

And how do they compare in a cocktail? To test out the flavors in a drink, I chose the drink Jasper’s Jamaican from Beachbum Berry’s Intoxica. With the simple ingredients of rum, fresh lime juice, allspice liqueur and simple syrup, I figured I could gauge how each would play out in a cocktail.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThe result? They both work great. While the flavors in the cocktails have some differences, mainly there is more spicy clove in the St. Elizabeth than in my home version, they are not drastically different to say one would work better than the other.

So now you have two choices when it comes to allspice liqueur. Want convenience and a proven brand? Gor for the St. Elizabeth! Want a DIY project that you can customize? Make your own! You’ll end up with a good one no matter which path you choose.

Allspice Liqueur

1-1/4 cups 151 rum
1/4 cup allspice berries, lightly crushed
1 2″ piece of cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Appleton 12 year rum

First, combine 151 rum, allspice berries, cinnamon, and cloves in an airtight container (I like using ball jars for this). Seal and shake gently to combine. Let sit 2 weeks in a cool, dry place, shaking once every day or so.

Next, strain the solids (I like to use nut bags for this to make sure all the particles get caught). Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar, bring to just under a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes and then let cool to room temp.

Finally, combine the allspice base, the simple syrup and add in the Appleton 12 year rum. Seal and let rest for an additional 2 to 3 weeks in a cool, dry place. Start tasting at 2 weeks and let rest an additional week if you’re not completely happy with the taste.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.