What a time it is in which we live. Just a couple of years ago, we had now way to add allspice liqueur — known in the Old Days as Pimento Dram — to a cocktail, leaving hundreds of recipes simply unmakeable, unless you wanted to do something horrible like substitute cinnamon schnapps for the allspice.
By some stroke of fate, now we have two, and mixologists can actually choose which Pimento Dram they like the best: St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, or the new Bitter Truth Pimento Dram.
I’m fortunate to have a bottle of the former to which I can compare the new liqueur, and while one wouldn’t think allspice spirits could be that much different, these surprisingly are.
First things first: Both are great spirits, but how you use them will depend on how you like your cocktail.
The big difference is sweetness: St. Elizabeth (45 proof, made in Austria) is clearly sweet; the focus of the spirit is on the herbs — an authentic, hefty apple pie character — but it’s surrounded by sugar (again, like an apple pie). The Bitter Truth’s version (44 proof, made in Germany, an allspice-and-rum concoction) is overwhelmingly spicy: Pungent and thick with raw allspice character. No beating around the bush on this one; it’s like opening a fresh jar of powdered allspice and taking a big whiff, filling the nostrils with the stuff and leaving you with a huge, lasting, and even sneeze-inducing finish.
Which of these allspice liqueurs is for you? St. Elizabeth is the feminine side to The Bitter Truth’s all-man spirit, and while the frugalist in my says you might be able to simply get away with using less of the Bitter Truth version in a recipe and end up with similar results, I expect many will simply pick one based on how powerfully allspicy they want their cocktail to be.