The Apple DramDram

A train-wreck on paper. A pleasant journey in the glass.

The Apple DramDram: A perfect Thursday night, turn-off-the-TV-and-contemplate libation.

I love drinks that, on paper, look like Amtrak derailments but wind up taking you wonderful places.

No matter how well you think you know ingredients, what they’re made of, where they’re distilled, the diameter of the barrels they’re aged in, and all that other hoo-ha, any given mixture can somehow stir up an unexpected delight.

The Apple DramDram

  • 1.5 Laird’s Applejack
    • I think only Laird’s still makes old-school American applejack. I don’t know if the frequent stand-in Calvados would work here. 
  • .5 dry vermouth
    • Dolin
  • .5 Drambuie
    • Scotch-based liqueur
  • .25 St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
    • Annoy your friends by calling this “pimento dram”
  • Dash apple bitters
    • Pretty obscure. A generous barkeep sent me home with a small plastic container of the bar’s bespoke creation. It was cinnamon-y too. 

DramDram tasting notes

  • So we’re all over the map here: American applejack, French vermouth, Scotch liqueur, Jamaican spice. There is no good reason why this should work.
  • And yet:
    • The fruitiness of the base liquor is goaded along by the Drambuie, which brings some smoky notes of its Scotch heritage.
    • The Allspice Dram, a powerhouse of allspice and many other flavors riding on the back of rummy sweetness, takes this in an entirely different direction.
    • The vermouth somehow calms the crowd down before any trouble starts.
    • The final touch  of bitter apple coaxes out a bit more pomacity [I think I just made that word up; it means “appleness”] without any extra sweetness.
  • Fruity, spicy, herb-y, with the notes of three different base liqueurs.
  • Smooth, complex nose in the glass.
  • No sweeter, in the end, than a Manhattan.
  • A perfect Thursday night, turn-the-TV-off-and-contemplate libation.

I brought a pitcher of this to a dinner party. People said they’d never tasted anything like it before. They drank it all.

We home mixologist-pretenders consider this a win.

Yes, but are you claiming this is an original?


I started with the idea of a Rusty Nail, a widely disparaged mid-century misjudgment, comprising equal parts Scotch and Drambuie. When trapped in a horrible bar I often order this just because everybody has Drambuie and whiskey and I love the strange looks I get. [I actually order mine 2:1 in favor of the Scotch, not 1:1.]

I poked around until I found the Scottish Autumn on Kindred’s, which mixes rye and applejack as the base spirit, and adds sweet vermouth along with the Drambuie. Yikes. Way too sweet for me.

I swapped the sweet vermouth for the dry. Huh.

And hey, look at this, I just bought this bottle of St Elizabeth and have been wondering what to do with it….

And here we are.

nb: “DramDram”: Drambuie + Allspice Dram. Sorry.

Author: Craig Stoltz

Suburban boulevardier. Former Washington Post journalist, entrepreneur, Top 25 blogger. Foodie. Cocktail geek. Proudly work in digital communications for you, The American People.

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