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.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy and let's talk about swearing

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comA few days ago I grabbed my phone, opened Instagram, scrolled down to a fellow cocktail blogger I follow and wrote something to the effect of “this is cozy AF” to describe their photo. And it was super cozy! But it got me thinking, when did we collectively decide that we want to curse, or rather, give the illusion of cursing, so frequently on social media?

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comNow, I’m a seasoned swearer in my day-to-day life. Well, before I had children, and now I’ve adapted to effectively cursing with substitute words as if I was actually dropping an f-bomb (like when I screamed OH FUDGE immediately following a head-butt to my chin rattling my jaws shut the other night while trying to wrestle a kid into pajamas.). However, I have chosen, for the most part, to refrain from using obscenities on my blog or social media sites because it just felt… not necessary. However, there has been a subtle shift with our acronym usage over the past several years where I might not have spelled it out, but I definitely let a WTF slide into a conversation that was being publicly broadcast over twitter. And now, commenting nonchalantly that someone’s fall-themed cocktail is definitely cozy enough to warrant an “AF”.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comThis masked profanity usage made me do a second glance at an email recently as an online course in social media was being promoted as, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Make your photos cool AF on Instagram”. I mean, sure, I’d like my photos to be professional, cool even. But this marketing ploy felt kinda clumsy, and definitely not geared towards a level I would consider spending money on to become an expert. I half expect the course would show you how to incorporate some animated gifs of cats vomiting rainbows or the like.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comAll of this, while I accept it, still feels strange. Maybe it’s a turning tide of age lines, and that I have been doing this blogging thing for a while now and there’s a new crop of DGAF social media personalities that don’t want to be too polite (but polite enough not to spell out that they are, in fact, swearing). Or are they even aware that what they’re shortening is a curse word? Or maybe with our collective need for brevity we would all be cursing at each other but we just don’t have the attention span, or time. Well…shit. What do you guys think?

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comBefore we conclude, I actually AM feeling some fall feelings finally and since it got into the low 70s in Los Angeles this past week, I made myself a Hot Toddy! I’ve had “turmeric hot toddy” scribbled on a note for some time now ever since I started making a tea with ground turmeric, black pepper, honey and almond milk. How on trend you might be thinking. But! It actually came from my Indian mother-in-law who grew up drinking something similar when she was sick and suggested I drink it the last time I came down with a cold. Turmeric is supposed to help with inflammation along with the addition of black pepper, and improve immune functions, and blah blah blah, this isn’t WebMD so I can’t say any of this works for sure. What I can say, with certainty, since this is a cocktail blog, that it is very tasty with the addition of rum and apricot liqueur. The earthiness of the turmeric is balanced out nicely with the sweetness from the apricot and honey, then the sharp citrus cuts through so that it doesn’t lean too much toward the sweet side. The aged rum give the whole drink flavors of spice and vanilla.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comI might even go so far to say it’s tasty AF.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comTurmeric Rum Hot Toddy

1/4 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of freshly ground black pepper (2 turns on coarse in a mill)
1 tsp honey
3/4 ounce freshly squeeze lemon juice
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur, Giffard used here
2 ounces rum, Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 year used here
3-4 ounces hot water

In a heat proof mug, pour in turmeric powder, black pepper and honey. Mix together until a paste forms. Then add in lemon juice, apricot liqueur and rum. Pour hot water into the mug and then carefully stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon peel.