Classic cocktails are classic for a reason – they work, and they stay relevant even when tastes and trends change. But, as someone who likes to stick my thumb in the eye of convention (even when I should clearly know better), I find that most classics are ripe for riffing.
When I feel like changing up a classic recipe, my initial approach is to understand why the original drink works. With the Lion’s Tail (an odd sounding blend of bourbon, allspice dram and lime), it’s kind of hard to tell exactly what gives this drink longevity. Bourbon and lime are an unusual pairing, and allspice (pimento) dram is an quirky ingredient from Jamaica that has wormed it’s way into home and professional bars of late as an ingredient that adds a bit of “what IS that flavor?” mystery to a cocktail.
Withition the resurgence of Allspice Dram, the pre-prohibition classic Lion’s Tail has come back from relative obscurity in recent years. I’m happy to welcome it back. But that name…. what’s that about? Seems there is only supposition, but most believe that it’s a reference to “twisting the lion’s tail” – a clever play meaning to provoke the Brits. Why not? Let’s provoke, starting with:
Surf’s Up Simba; a Tiki take on a Lion’s Tail
1.5 oz Bull Run Distillery Barrel Strength bourbon
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.75 oz fresh orange juice
.5 oz chocolate liqueur (I used the DIY version from Carlton Cocktail Co.)
.5 oz demerara rum
.5 oz pear syrup
2 tsp allspice dram
3 dashes aromatic bitters
Shake with ice, strain into a glass with one large cube. Garnish with expressed orange and orange zest.
I used a local Barrel Strength bourbon because, well I like local. But you can use a different high proof bourbon, look for one with tons of flavor and not too heavy handed with the oak. I also used a local DIY chocolate liqueur (these are pretty cool little kits that you can get from Carlton Cocktail Co. in Oregon), but you can sub a good quality creme de cacao for that.
The pear syrup was made in my kitchen – don’t be alarmed, it only took one fresh pear, some sugar & brandy, and about 15 minutes of work.
Pear Syrup: one fresh ripe pear (I like Bosc), peeled, cored and rough chopped. Add to 1 cup of water and 1 cup of cane sugar in a small saucepan. Add one tablespoon of pear brandy, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon and a small pinch of cinnamon – bring to a boil, mashing the pear with a fork or some other mashing implement as it gets soft. Boil for a few minutes, then turn off heat and let cool. Strain cooled syrup into a bottle – keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Now, go provoke a Brit. Mix it up a bit.