On first glance, the Lion's Tail reads like an appealing, but relatively plain, bourbon cocktail. Bourbon? Check. Lime juice? Check. Simple syrup? Check. Bitters? Check. Stop there and you will likely be happy with the cocktail you are drinking. But what's pimento dram? It's the ingredient that takes this cocktail from plain to amazing and makes this a wonderful Fall drink!
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce pimento or allspice dram
1 teaspoon simple syrup
1 dash bitters (I used Angostura)
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a coupe or lowball glass. Serve up with a lime wheel for garnish.
So what is pimento dram? First, it is the same as allspice dram. For sake of clarity, and because I used a version which calls it pimento dram, I will do the same. Pimento dram is a Jamaican liqueur with a rum base flavored with the pimento berry. To many, pimento is a kind of pepper. And while delicious, the pepper is not what is being used here. The pimento berry is the same as the allspice berry. It was first encountered by British explorers in the 18th century. The Jamaican natives called it “pimiento." Once they tasted it, however, the English gave it a new name. They called it “allspice” because it tasted like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. You can always count on the British to take something that is not theirs, claim it for themselves, and change the name!
I have tasted two different pimento drams, one made by the Bitter Truth and one made by St. Elizabeth's. Both are good. I used the Bitter Truth's version here. The main difference between them is that Bitter Truth's version is spicier and St. Elizabeth's is a bit sweeter. So you may need to adjust the recipe to your taste depending on which you use. A lot of recipes call for 1/2 ounce of pimento dram. I found that overpowering. Using a 1/4 ounce, I found the cocktail is better balanced and has a really nice spicy note that lingers at the end. It's that spiciness that adds warmth and depth to an otherwise plain cocktail. It's perfect for the Fall so enjoy!