August 11, 2022

Lion’s Tail, How to Make This Unique Bourbon Cocktail

Lime juice with allspice and whiskey? Who would have thought that would be good?... Well, it is.

orange oil on the lions tail

Fresh lime and allspice create a uniquely tropical flavor that doesn't exactly make you think whiskey cocktail, but hey, it works.

The Lion's Tail tastes strongly of allspice nicely balanced by tart lime juice. Undertones of the warm baking spice notes of Angostura round things out while the base of bourbon takes a back seat.

Just because the combination seems strange doesn't mean the drink won't be good!

measuring bourbon for the lions tail

What's in the Lion's Tail Cocktail?

For the Lion's Tail recipe you will need: 

  • Bourbon: Nothing crazy high quality. Some of my favorites for mixing are Four Roses and Old Grandad
  • Fresh Lime Juice: none of that pre bottled stuff allowed
  • Simple Syrup: equal parts sugar and water
  • Allspice Dram: a sweet liqueur made with allspice berries
  • Angostura Bitters: packed with warm spice flavors

The Lion's Tail has the roots of a whiskey sour, but instead of lemon juice you use lime, and some of the simple syrup has been swapped out for allspice dram.

measuring allspice liqueur

What is Allspice Dram?

Allspice dram (or pimento dram) is a rum based liqueur made by infusing the spirit with allspice berries from the pimento tree. It is sweet with a strong spice flavor similar to cloves.

The bright spicy flavor is most commonly used in rum based tiki drinks that remind of us the same tropical climates where the pimento tree is grown.

There are only a few brands of pimento dram on the market with St Elizabeth's being the one most large liquor stores will stock. You might also see bottles from the Bitter Truth, or Hamilton, neither of which I have tried, but they are both well respected companies.

bottle of angostura

is there a substitute for allspice dram?

In terms of matching the sweetness and flavor or allspice dram there really are no great replacements. Some spiced rums have strong allspice notes, but they lack the sweetness needed to keep the drink from falling out of whack.

As a last ditch substitution effort you can mix 2 oz rum with 2 oz simple syrup and add 10 dashes of angostura bitters. This custom mix can be subbed in for allspice dram to get a cocktail similar to the original, but it sure won't be the same.

Making your own homemade pimento dram is also an option if you're willing to make it about 2 weeks ahead of time.

straining the lions tail

The Lion's Tail history

The first print of the Lion's Tail cocktail recipe was in "The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book" in 1937 leading people to believe it was most likely created earlier than that, potentially during prohibition.

Despite the book being published in London, the term "twisting the lion's tail" referred to provoking the British (whose coat of arms features a lion) making it seem even more likely the cocktail was created during American prohibition.

garnishing with citrus

How do you make a Lion's Tail

Add your bourbon, lime juice, allspice dram, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake hard for 10-12 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

If you'd like a little extra citrus flavor express the oils from an orange peel over the top of the finished cocktail and drop it in for garnish.

Lion's Tail with eggwhite

One variation of the Lion's Tail follows the same recipe as below, but includes one egg white to give the cocktail a creamy smooth texture just like a classic whiskey sour.

To make this version add all the ingredients (plus one egg white) to you shaker and shake hard WITHOUT ice for about 20 seconds to get everything frothy. Then shake a second time with ice before double straining into your chilled cocktail glass.

the finished lions tail drink

Make these cocktails too:

Lion's Tail Cocktail


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Allspice Dram
  • 1 barspoon Simple Syrup - about a tsp
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange Peel - for garnish


  • Add all the liquid ingredients to your cocktail shaker
  • Add ice and shake hard for 10-12 seconds
  • Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • Express the oils from a piece of orange peel over the drink and drop in for garnish


If you'd like to make the drink more/less sweet you can adjust the amount of simple syrup.
You can also make this recipe with an egg white. Shake the ingredients plus the egg white without ice for about 20 seconds before adding ice and shaking again for 10 seconds. Strain and serve.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 drink
Tag me at @mydrinkinghobby when you make this!

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lions tail pin

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