A Little Winter Spice

Lions TailSome of the flavors that I tend to associate with cold weather drinking are those that I associate with baking. In fact I call these flavors “baking spices.” What I’m referring to are the common flavors of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. While these flavors can and are used year-round, there is just something about the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg coming from the kitchen when the weather is frosty and snow is on the horizon.

One of my favorite sources of these flavors is a dash or two of Angostura bitters into a cocktail. Angostura is probably the most popular and widely available type of bitters on the market. However, as with most bitters, you won’t get a whole burst of flavors, merely a nice undertone.  Oddly, one of my favorite ways to get these baking spices in a cocktail during the winter months is by using a tropical ingredient: pimento!

No, I’m not talking about the red peppers, rather I’m talking about the Spanish “pimiento” which is used widely in the Jamaican islands. You may know it better by another its other name: allspice. Allspice berries were named such because their flavor incorporates all of these baking spices I’ve mentioned. In Jamaica, the berries were added to rum and sweetened to create a type of liqueur. This liqueur was called Pimiento Liqueur or Allspice Dram. While traditionally used in island-style drinks, this liqueur brings baking spices for winter cocktails front and center.

Allspice Dram was unavailable to U.S. consumers for many years. However, thanks to a Minnesota importing company, Haus Alpenz, you can now find St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram in many markets. Below is one of my favorite cocktails using Allspice Dram and a great cool weather cocktail.

The Lion’s Tail
2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounce Allspice Dram
.50 ounce fresh lime juice
.50 tablespoon simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for a slow ten count and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Do you have a favorite winter spice? Do you use it in cocktails or other drinks? Let us know in the comments.

Cheers!