It’s October – and what’s not to like? Pleasingly cool evenings cry out for heartier food. Not to mention drinks with a bit of zip.
For the latter, consider the Lions’ Tail, a bourbon cocktail that features spicy allspice dram and zesty lime juice. Its lively flavor will chase away the chill.
Perfect for sharing with your sweetie while gazing into the fireplace.
Recipe: The Lion’s Tail Cocktail
The Lion’s Tail contains an unusual combination of ingredients. For one, it requires allspice dram (aka pimento dram). It also contains lime juice, which typically pairs with rum (lemon is more common for bourbon). Somehow, though, lime works in this drink.
The Lion’s Tail probably was created during the Prohibition era, or shortly after. More history later.
We learned about this drink from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Our recipe is slightly adapted from his.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 2 ounces bourbon
- ¼ to ½ ounce allspice (pimento) dram (start with the smaller amount; see Notes)
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- garnish of an orange or lemon twist (very optional; we usually skip this)
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well chilled (20 seconds or so).
- Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe, preferably one that has been chilled. Add garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- This drink traditionally is served “up” in a cocktail glass or coupe. We also like it on the rocks.
- “Allspice” and “pimento” dram are just different names for the same ingredient. It’s a liqueur that has spicy, zesty flavor. You can make your own, but we just buy it. Most good liquor stores will stock at least one brand. We like the St. Elizabeth brand, which is probably the one you’ll see most often.
- The alcohol content of some brands of allspice dram is low. So once you open it, store it in the refrigerator to slow down oxidization.
- How much allspice dram to use in this drink? Many recipes call for ½ ounce, but we find that a bit overpowering. So start with ¼ ounce, then add more if the drink seems to need more spice. BTW, Haigh’s recipe is an outlier – it calls for ¾ ounce of allspice dram. Way too much, we think.
- The amount of simple syrup is also flexible in this drink. We think 1 teaspoon is about right, although sometimes we use a touch less. Others like more. Haigh, for example, suggests a tablespoon.
- Which bourbon to use? Whatever you like! We suggest using a name brand that has a bit of heft (so the flavor will hold up to the allspice dram). We often use Wild Turkey 101, which we like in mixed drinks (not so much as a sippin’ bourbon). Old Grand-Dad would be an excellent choice, too (and good value – it’s relatively inexpensive, but it doesn’t drink that way).
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial and don’t get compensated in any way for mentioning brands. We recommend what we like and buy with our own money.
- A recipe for the Lion’s Tail first appeared in print in The Café Royal Cocktail Book by W. J. Tarling, published in 1937. But the drink probably existed for years before that. The Café Royal Cocktail Book was published to celebrate the coronation of King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II. The book credits L. A. Clarke as the creator of the Lion’s Tail. Who was Clarke? We don’t know, alas.
- The Café Royal started life in 1865 as a café-restaurant, and soon became popular with the luminaries of London. In 2012, the building was converted to a luxury hotel – known, appropriately, as the Hotel Café Royal.
“Yum, this drink is fit for a lion king!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “And our cat, Kitty Riffs, would approve of the name.”
“Yup, this cat’s got my tongue!” I said.
“I’d be li-on if I said I was roaring with laughter at that comment,” said Mrs K R.
She doesn’t pussyfoot around with her opinions. Maybe it’s time for a cat nap.
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Whiskey and allspice...that's an unexpected combination for me. The drink looks terrific with that beautiful Fall colour.
Hi Angie, definitely an unusual combo, but a good one. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Woo hoo, I bought the pimento dram for the rum juleps and now I have another drink to try
Hi Anne, you'll like this -- neat flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, this sounds super delicious. Allspice in a cocktail, that is one perfect autumn drink. Love this idea. Might have to give it a go on Friday night.
Hi Bobbi, it's a terrific drink -- a bit spicy, but smooth. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The allspice and bourbon area great combination for the season. This sounds good.
Hi Pat and Dahn, isn't this a neat combo? SO tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a cool combination of flavors!
Hi Pam, isn't this fun? SO tasty! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love allspice and Manservant has something that he adds to my drinks. Perhaps it is this! In any case, it has me meowing all night!
Hi Abbe, if Manservant doesn't know about allspice dram, he needs to make its acquaintance. It's good stuff! He'll purr. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I’ve never heard of allspice dram nor this cocktail. How fascinating. I love bourbon! Great photos as ever KR!
Hi Sherry, this cocktail isn't all the well known, alas. Should be, though. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am in Hamburg near the tent where the lions king has been performed for years. I love the flavor of allspice but if I understand you correctly it’s like a syrup? Prost!
How elegant! And looks delicious as well.
Hi Gerlinde, allspice dram is a liqueur that is flavored with allspice (its main flavoring) and other spices and ingredients. Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amalia, it has excellent flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I always learn something new from you. I never heard of a dram before. Now I have to go find some and try it out!
Hi Laura, allspice dram is excellent! A nicely flavored liqueur. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Meow. Nice kitty! I’d love to lap this up!
Hi David, LOL! We love to lap this up, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love allspice but never thought of using it in a cocktail! It sounds intriguing to say the least, and who can resist bourbon, right? Beautiful fall drink.
Hi Paula, we find it IMPOSSIBLE to resist bourbon. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never heard of Lions’ Tail cocktail nor allspice dram (Which I needed to google - it's actually a great stuff that I might make and utilize for my Christmas projects). Intriguing and I bet delicious combination. And it looks stunning! Would be a nice choice for Halloween, too :)
Hi Ben, the color alone makes this a terrific choice for Halloween. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, yeah, this is good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
You're right - that is an unusual combination of flavors. The allspice is a perfect flavor for the fall. A very nice autumn cocktail.
Hi MJ, this is one combo of ingredients that I would have never thought would work -- but it does! :-) Thanks for the comment.
A perfect fall sip. And with a name like that, it's gotta be the king of cocktails. ;)
Hi Carolyn, it's good to be king. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've got a bottle of bourbon that's just waiting to be used up, so I'll have to give this a try. I think I might make my own dram.
Hi Jeff, we know people who've made their own allspice dram -- they say it's fun. We're impatient, so we just go buy it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Mmmm, love the spicy allspice touch for autumn. As you said in the bottom cat's meow poem, maybe it's time for a cat nap? I would think that would be part of this cocktail's recipe . . . on a lovely fall afternoon, in some kind of rocker on a porch . . . tummy and brain full of a Lion's Tail . . . yup, perfect!
Hi Roz, two of these would definitely put you to sleep! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Intrigued about the "allspice" ingredient. Thanks for a brand name. This sounds totally autumnal!
Hi Debra, allspice dram is a fun ingredient -- really nice flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Bourbon and all spice, tastes like autumn to me!
Hi Raymund, I'll drink to that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wowowow - this is just as stunning on your blog as it was on social media where I bumped into it! Such a beautiful color and such a unique combo of flavors!
Hi Shashi, isn't this pretty? Really good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I often mix lime and bourbon and I love it. I'm typically game for just about any citrus-y cocktail though. Cheers!
Hi Laura, bet you'd love this -- SO much flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
The color on this is glorious! You must have one large liquor cabinet with all the unique ingredients you use!
Hi Inger, isn't the color great? And yeah, we have way too many bottles on hand. We keep swearing we won't buy any additional liqueurs, but then we see a cocktail that we just HAVE to try that requires something we don't have. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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