Lion’s Tail: The Perfect Fall Cocktail

When I think of the perfect fall cocktail, the first thing that comes to mind is having all those delicious, comforting flavors one attributes to the season – think warm spice notes such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.  Thankfully for us, the allspice berry exists, and it’s the key ingredient in allspice or pimento dram, which in turn is a key component in one of the great classic cocktails, the Lion’s Tail. 

lion's tail cocktail

Allspice is the dried unripe berry of pimenta, a tree native to the Caribbean.  The term “allspice” was coined by the English in the early 1800s, and they apparently lacked any and all creativity that day.  True to its name, the dried berry has notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, housing all of those delightful flavors under one roof.  All-spice. 

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Yeah, not exactly a stroke of genius by the British.  Thankfully, someone did have the stroke of genius and thought to add crushed up allspice berries to rum and let it sit.  Then they added some sugar and BOOM – allspice dram was born. 

allspice dram

Fast forward a century and the Lion’s Tail cocktail made its first literary appearance in the Café Royal Cocktail Book written by William J. Tarling in 1937.  Most notably, it utilized pimento, otherwise known as allspice dram. The name Lion’s Tail was an oh-so subtle jab at the English, referring to the phrase “twist the lion’s tail,” an idiom used to chastise countries who provoked the British empire. 

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The dig came when you realized the cocktail used an American bourbon instead of an English gin or scotch, and it was paired alongside a Jamaican allspice dram – Jamaica being an empirical colony at the time.  Unfortunately, the Lion’s Tail fumbled around in obscurity until it was rediscovered some 70 years later by Ted Haigh in his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.   Lucky for us, it’s garnered worldwide popularity since then, and you can find it on cocktail menus all across the globe. 

The Lion’s Tail has the trappings of a tropical, tiki style cocktail, but without all the pizzazz or over indulgence associated with that era.   It’s light and vibrant, and will hit you with all those delicious, warm familiar flavors, which makes it the perfect cocktail for the fall season. 

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  • 2 oz bourbon
  • .5 oz allspice dram
  • .75 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters

Put all the aforementioned ingredients into a shaker tin, add ice and shake for 10 seconds.  Strain all that goodness into a stemmed glass before toasting a star anise with a match.  Add said star to your drink as a garnish and enjoy!

star anise garnish

Written by Deke Dunne.  For more on all things dranks, give him a follow on instagram, and make sure you check out the following articles for more:  Smells like Whiskey Spirit, How-to Make Rum Punch at Home, and The Best To-Go Cocktails in the DMV Area.


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