Friday Night Cocktail: Lion’s Tail

I say it a lot, but that’s because it’s true: it doesn’t take much to metamorphose one cocktail into another. Just take an existing drink and swap out one component: a Daiquiri with Swedish Punch in place of the sugar becomes a Doctor Cocktail; a Corpse Reviver No. 2 with elderflower liqueur in place of the Lillet becomes a Sunflower. For a summery inflection, you can replace the sugar in a Bourbon Sour with a combination of  grenadine and passion fruit syrup for a Port Light. Or you can use allspice liqueur and add a couple of dashes of bitters, to make a Lion’s Tail.

The key to balancing the Lion’s Tail is understanding the allspice liqueur (aka pimento dram). It should make its presence known, but not overpower the Bourbon. If you’re working with an intense version of it, you may need to use less, and increase the amount of simple syrup to compensate. On the other hand, if you’re working with a weaker, perhaps homemade version, you may need to use more, with only a touch of simple syrup for sweetness.

I made a round of Lion’s Tails for some friends recently, and between the bourbon, the allspice liqueur and the spice of the Angostura bitters, it was declared to be “the perfect autumn drink.” And so it is.

How to make a Lion’s Tail

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1/4 oz. allspice dram (if using a commercial bottling, or adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (or to taste)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake hard for 15 seconds, then strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

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