Allspice dram is a well-known superstar in the cocktail circuit. Known to bring a complex combination of flavours to any drink its flavour is likened to cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. So ubiquitous is the taste and flavour of allspice dram one might be misled into believing it is a mixture of all the spices in the world as the name suggests. However, allspice is the product of a single plant. For something that provides a veritable cornucopia of flavour, it’s hard to imagine that someone may be looking for an allspice dram substitute. However, if you find yourself in this situation there are a few options you can consider. First, let’s find out what makes allspice dram so special.
Allspice dram is a spicy Jamaican liqueur. Allspice dram is essentially an infused light rum mixture, where the flavour comes from allspice berries. This special ingredient gives it a unique spicy flavour which is balanced by the additional brown sugar with a kick of cinnamon that is normally used in its preparation. Allspice also is known as pimenta, pimento, Jamaican pepper or myrtle pepper is the berry of a mid-sized tree and not a herb or shrub as the name suggests. The name allspice was given to it because of its unique taste that cannot be distinguished but is more like a mix of many spices. The berries of the pimenta dioica tree are harvested whilst still green and dried, usually in the sun. To make allspice dram light rum is infused with the ground allspice berries for 7 days after which the sugar and additional water are gradually added until the alcohol percentage by volume is down to 30%. Allspice dram is used in a variety of exotic cocktails such as Lion’s tail and the ancient mariner. With such a mix of flavours, you’d be right to think that finding substitutes for allspice dram is very difficult. If you just can’t get your hands on allspice there are a few things you can try in its stead.
Cinnamon, Cloves and Nutmeg Infused Rum
One substitute for allspice is an infused rum with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Rum in itself has a sweet toasted sugar flavour within it. This makes rum a sweet liqueur. Infusing with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg give the spicy kick that allspice adds to allspice dram. The cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are used in a 1:1:1 ratio. It’s best to use ground versions of all three spices to achieve the best flavour consistency. To get the closest match to allspice dram you want to keep the mixture for at least 7 days before use. While rum is a sweet liqueur it will not be as sweet as allspice dram without the added sugar. You will, however, find this mixture adequate for all your favourite cocktails.
Homemade Allspice Dram
If you want allspice and have two weeks to spare before you need to use it you could always make your allspice dram. Allspice or pimento is very easy to find on supermarket shelves as are cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, light rum and you can get water from your tap. The process for making your allspice dram is similar to that used by the brewers but will take you around two weeks to get the right flavour. You will need light rum, brown sugar, allspice whole berries, a cinnamon stick and additional water. Mix the 1 cup of light rum and a quarter cup of allspice berries coarsely ground. Allow this mixture to steep in a sealed jar, preferably glass for 4 days. On the 5th day, break the cinnamon stick and add it to the mixture then allow to steep for a further 7 days. After a total of 12 days of steeping strain the solid bits out of the mixture. Heat the water and sugar in a pot and allow the sugar to dissolve completely, boil the mixture for 5 minutes. Cool the syrup mixture off then add it to the rum mixture. Shake well to mix then let this combined mixture sit for another 2 days minimum before using it.
Let’s face it, most of us do not have the luxury of a full week or two to plan our favourite cocktails. You might want an allspice dram substitute that you can easily find in the supermarket or liquor store. For that, there are Angostura bitters. Angostura bitters is a herb-infused alcohol tonic that brings an exciting spicy and bitter flavour to cocktails. Angostura bitters, much like allspice dram hails from a Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. It traces its origins back to the Venezuelan town of Cuidad formerly known as Angostura which is Spanish for “narrowing”. Angostura bitters do not as the name suggests contain the angostura bark. The exact ingredients of Angostura bitters are a closely guarded intellectual property secret. There are recipes like orange bitters which have strong hints of orange. If you cannot find the original Angostura bitters you should be able to locate it under the name bitters, Swedish or lemon bitters. It brings a similar herbal and spicy punch to cocktails however it provides a bitter or bittersweet taste at the end which you will find different from allspice dram.
Allspice dram is a tough act to follow and finding one single replacement for it is a tall order. While making your allspice dram is easy it also requires at least two weeks of lead time. Infusing rum with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg makes a decent substitute but will need a week of lead time and will be nowhere near as sweet. Angostura bitters can easily be found in liquor stores but provide a distinctly different taste with a particularly bitter aftertaste.