This is just a little record for myself and anyone else who is interested, covering my Pimento Dram making experiments. For those who don’t know, Pimento Dram is an allspice flavored liqueur with a rum base from Jamaica. I have had two attempts at making Pimento Dram, the first not very successful and the second quite successful.
The first time I tried making Pimento Dram I had limited access to raw materials on account of being in Shanghai. I couldn’t find whole allspice or Demerara rum! It’s amazing I made pimento dram at all. A holiday to Cambodia and Hong Kong sorted out the spice problem, while for the rum I improvised by using Bacardi 151 – a bad idea. My first attempt was as follows:
½ cup allspice in the form of lightly crushed whole berries (actually slightly more because my Cambodian purchased allspice – the last tiny pack in the shop – seemed slightly less flavorsome than the Hong Kong stuff)
1 ½ cups Bacardi 151
3 cups water
750 grams molasses sugar
Infuse the rum and allspice for 2 weeks. Strain spice out. Rinse spice with a further ¾ cup of rum (Meyers). Heat the water and sugar on the stove until all of the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Mix the syrup with the rum infusion and bottle. Leave for a month before drinking.
Sadly this turned out rather badly. I think I committed two key mistakes. The first mistake was using Bacardi 151. The second mistake was using molasses sugar. I figured I would go for the darkest sugar I could find to ensure a nice rich taste. Molasses sugar just does not work, giving an odd pungent and sour taste that is just not good
My second attempt was far more successful. This time I was making it in New Zealand, where obtaining allspice and Demerara rum was not a problem. Scared by my last attempt I was more cautious with the quantities.
Generous ¼ cup lightly crushed allspice
1 1/8 cups Demerara rum (Woods)
1 ½ cups water
350 grams light Muscovado sugar
Infuse the rum and allspice for ten days. Strain spices out of the rum. Rinse remaining spices with a further 1/8 cup of Demerara rum. Boil water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Cool and add rum mixture. Leave for a month before drinking.
The second version was far superior to the first one. I think the difference was using Demerara rum and a lighter sugar. Unfortunately you really do need the Demerara rum to make this liqueur. Demerara rum has a spicy and sweet taste that helps the flavors integrate. The high alcohol content also helps in the infusion, and plus Demerara rum is simply a better quality product than Bacardi.
Well there you have it. . . I have seen recipes online for more complicated pimento dram recipes that include ingredients like lime zest and Angostura Bitters. I am not sure there is any need to get too complex. The above recipe works well for me.
Now the only problem is finding good cocktails that use this stuff. . .