Classic Cocktail – The Lion’s Tail

Written, researched and seriously well styled by Simon McGoram
Photography by Steve Brown

I used to look quizzically at punters coming up to the bar asking for a wedge of lime in their Scotch and soda or bourbon and coke. I mean, who does that? Lime with whisky? You must be off your rocker! But take the time flick through some old recipes and you’ll find that there is indeed a historical, mixological precedent. The Mamie Taylor – a Scotch highball with lime and ginger ale – is a fine and delicious example and the Lion’s Tail, printed below, shows bourbon to be a simpatico partner to lime also.

The Lion’s Tail, first printed in the Café Royal Cocktail Book by William J Tarling in 1937, is a cocktail with bite. There’s the spiciness of pimento dram – an allspice rum liqueur – coupled with Angostura bitters, the tang of fresh lime and plenty enough whiskey to ensure that this cocktail has a sting in its tail to boot.


I mean, who does that? Lime with whisky? You must be off your rocker!”

The formula for the drink follows a simple enough Sour format with sugar just needing to be adjusted for the sweetness of your pimento dram. Unless you’re ordering a pimento dram from overseas you will need to manufacture some yourself and a simple enough recipe can be found by searching

Tarling doesn’t call for a garnish in his 1937 recipe, but what would a Lion’s Tail be without the tail? It has been pointed out to me that lion’s tails aren’t green, but don’t for the love of all that is holy consider switch lemon for lime in any component of this drink. It’s simply not an improvement. Happy mixing!

The Lion’s Tail

  • 50ml Bulleit Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 15ml pimento dram*
  • 5ml sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake briskly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

*Pimento dram is an Allspice rum liqueur. Commercially manufacture brands like St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and the Bitter Truth Pimento Dram can be purchased overseas. In Australia, for now, you’ll have to make your own.

Visit for a recipe.

1 Comment
  1. Man! How good is this drink? I had about 10 of these the other night at the rickhouse in san Fran. I want one right now!

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