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Thursday, January 11, 2007

You Asked, Doc Reveals

Imbibe readers may remember Dr. Cocktail’s challenge in his Rototo column in the Nov/Dec issue. He tantalizingly offered up a sumptuous cold-weather cocktail of his own creation, but pulled it back at the last second because of a long unavailable ingredient. He would reveal the recipe, he said, plus the formula to make the unavailable ingredient, if readers requested it—as they have!

Here’s Doc:
This is a drink I named the Addams’ Apple in honor of Chas Addams, creator of the Addams’ Family and author of some of the funniest (and darkest) cartoons ever to appear in the New Yorker. It’s a holiday drink. Thus my humor also trends to the dark side. But here’s the deal: it tastes like a cold cocktail of hot apple pie.

2 oz. Applejack
1 oz. apple cider
1/2 oz. pimento dram
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker loaded with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and if you want to do it up right, garnish with an apple slice that’s been soaking in brandy (Calvados is best) for a week, but no more. Drink the cocktail, chew on the apple.

Here, though, is the worm in the apple: It’s been a long time since pimento dram has been readily available in the U.S. What is pimento dram? It’s a Jamaican liqueur (both homemade and commercial) with a rum base flavored with the pimento berry. Hmm. Pimento berry. Is that the red wadded-up thing stuffed into a pickled cocktail olive? Nope, that’s something entirely (and blessedly) different. The pimento berry was encountered by seafaring British explorers in the 18th century. The natives called it “pimiento” (anglicized to pimento.) Once they tasted it, however, the English gave it a new name based on its flavor. They called it “allspice” because it seemed to encapsulate the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove—all it one. It remains a favorite in Jamaica, but the current sole producer, Wray & Nephew, steadfastly will not import it to the States. They are missing out on a good bet though, especially in the winter.

So, what is to be done? Well, a couple of other serious (and estimable) doctors of the cocktail have developed formulas that re-create this genuinely superb cordial. I advised, and both Chuck Taggart of gumbopages.com and the team of Chad Solomon and Christy Pope (celebrated New York City bartenders and owners of Cuff & Buttons Cocktail Catering) have devised two turnkey pimento dram formulas. Remember, it was originally a homemade “folk” liqueur, so nuances of flavor varied anyway.

Here are the two formulae:

Chuck’s Jamaican Pimento Dram (Allspice Liqueur) No. 3
2-1/4 cups 151-proof Demerara rum
1/2 cup whole dried allspice berries, crushed
3 cups water
1-1/2 lb. brown sugar

Crush the allspice berries in a mortar and place in a 1-liter jar with a rubber seal. Cover with the rum and allow to steep for at least 10 days, agitating the maceration daily.

Pour through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquor as you can, then pour the strained liquor maceration through another strainer lined with a coffee filter (this’ll take a while).

Make a simple syrup with the water and brown sugar; heat until dissolved, then allow to cool. When cool, combine with the rum maceration and allow to age for at least one month. Decant and enjoy.

This will almost fill two 750 ml. bottles (we use the ones they sell fizzy French lemonade in, because of that nifty resealing rubber-lined ceramic stopper), so you can cut the recipe in half to makes less, unless you want to give some away.

Chad & Christy’s Pimento Dram
2 cups Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum
1/2 cup Myer’s Dark Jamaican Rum
1/2 cup whole allspice berries
3 cups water
1 1/2 lbs. granulated white sugar
1 oz. Angostura bitters
1 oz. burnt sugar

Crush the allspice berries with a mortar and place in a glass jar. Cover with the rum and seal tightly. Let the mixture steep for 14 days, agitating daily. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (like a chinois) pressing on the solids to extract as much of the spiced rum as you can. Pour the liquid again through a coffee filter.

Make a 1:1 simple syrup using your sugar and water, using gentle heat and stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool, then add it to the infused rum along with the Angostura and the burnt sugar. Bottle the mixture in two clean/sterilized 750 ml. bottles and let it rest for 1 month. After that, go crazy with it.

Both of these versions are simply excellent, and though they are preparation-intensive, the resulting liqueur is incredibly versatile and well worth the effort.

Let me know how you like the Addams’ Apple!

This is Doc, returning you now to your regularly scheduled program.


Carla said...

Thanks Doc. Cocktail! Do you recommend one of these dram recipes over the other? Before I dive in I'd love to know.

Dr.Cocktail said...

Actually, I liked them both so much, I couldn't choose between them, and that's why I offered BOTH up. Really, you can't go wrong either way; they both work admirably in any cocktail I've tried that called for Pimento Dram (and you can search out several at CocktailDB.com.) In some ways, these home grown drams are better than the commecial product (more allspicey, more complex). In some subtle ways the bottled stuff in preferable (softer mouthfeel, more muted). If you are going to go to the trouble to make some, considering the many duplicated ingredients, why not make a batch of each and choose yourself? Both will turn out well enough by far that you could give some lucky folks bottles as gifts. You can be sipping Chuck's version while Chad & Christy's age for those additional four days.


Carla said...

Thank you for the speedy answer! I will tae your advice and try them both.

JerseyRed said...

Excellent! I've been looking for Pimento Dram for quite some time and so I'm really looking forward to trying both recipes.

Would El Dorado 151 High Strength Rum work for this recipe? I believe that's a Demerara rum, correct?

Thanks, Rich

Dr.Cocktail said...

It would indeed work, Rich, as it is a Demerara. I can'y speak to how WELL it would work since I haven't tried the mixture with that rum. Lemonhart 151 works very well, though.


erik_flannestad said...

Thanks for posting the recipe, Doc. I knew there had to be some reason for my urge to purchase apple cider in Mendocino this weekend. Just couldn't remember until I re-read your piece.

Anonymous said...

Dark brown sugar or light brown sugar? ... Which do you use?

Dr.Cocktail said...

Well, let's deconstruct this. "Brown" sugar is just white sugar with invert sugars (in this case molasses) added back in. Therefore the desire for a richer, more molasses-y flavor is what you are striving for if you use brown sugar. Because Chuck is just using high proof Demerara rum, he adds dark brow sugar. Chad used a portion of Myers's - a very molasses-flavored rum so he doesn't feel it needs brown sugar with that recipe. Personally I think IF you use brown sugar, light is better because it should be left to the allspice to provide the signature richness - and any molasses that gets added one way or the other should merely be a bolstering support flavor - very subtle. As with cocktail recipes themselves, you totally have leave to experiment beyond our suggestions, however. --Doc.

Thomas said...

How about the burnt sugar, Doc? Is this a caramelized sugar syrup? Thanks!
- Thomas

Dr.Cocktail said...

Burn't sugar has been the source of some misunderstandings previously. In cooking circles, burnt sugar means something so cooked down, it colors a mixture (darkening it) - but no discernable flavor remains. When we mixicologists put on our lab aprons, yes, "burnt sugar" indicates carmelization to the point of a robust "deep" flavor and no more. Nothing like molasses, it just adds depth, like a drop of liquid smoke might in BBQ sauce. --Doc.

brandy said...

The recipe I am going to share with you today is about 350 years old! A great favourite from the Cape where the first brandy from Cape grapes were distilled in 1672! We have come a very long way since then when it comes to the quality of our brandy, but still, Cape Brandy Pudding remains an old time favourite :) Growing up in South Africa is great fun with all the recipes your mother makes and teaches you during your younger years!

Thomas said...

Found instructions for burnt sugar:

¾ cup Sugar
¾ cup Boiling water

Melt sugar in a skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it turns into an amber-colored liquid. Turn off heat, and carefully add boiling water (mixture will bubble madly). Return the caramel to low heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar and water are thoroughly mixed and no lumps of sugar remain. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Fragment of an interesting cake recipe here.

Jamaica Emily said...

Thanks for the recipe - I'm eager to experience some island flavor...that is, if I don't burn down the kitchen cooking up the dram!

Jamaica Emily said...

Thanks for the recipe - I'm eager to experience some island flavor...that is, if I don't burn down the kitchen cooking up the dram!

Anonymous said...

Thank for these cocktail recipes! They are very yummy!

cafeaulait said...

Guess what!!

I just got two bottles of Pimento Dram from Jamaica today website for ordering is.
www.reggaetreats.com. drinking some right now

seezee said...

hey, doc! should i keep it refrigerated after i decant?



Dr.Cocktail said...

No need. Unless juices are involved, only dirty vessels and associated prep-ware would lead to the need for refrigeration!

I'm pleased you want to make the stuff and the home spirit of personal production is a redemptive activity, but I would say... Eric Seed's Allspice Dram is all you want. If you have difficulty getting it, if you prefer to make your own, just be meticulous and you should be able to keep your product on the shelf with the other liquors!