DIY vs. Buy: Sometimes It’s Not Worth it to DIY

Normally, I’m writing about why you should make a cocktail ingredient yourself. But there are times when it’s just not worth it.

If I had a nickel for every mason jar full of herbs, spices, and liquor steeping in my kitchen, I’d have 55 cents. (That’s not a lot of money, but it is a lot of weird jars.) So it might seem like I am biased against store-bought cocktail ingredients. But when it comes down to it, there are only three things I would never buy for my cocktails: simple syrup, pre-juiced citrus, and sour mix. Seriously, if you can’t combine sugar and water or juice a lemon, I’m not sure you should be allowed to drink. But there are a few items that I will just never try to make myself. And I don’t think you should either.

DIY vs. Buy: Cocktail Ingredients You Should Not Make Yourself on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: Allspice Dram, the Tiki Secret

Tiki drinks are so much fun … and so are tiki ingredients. Allspice dram is a little hard to find and a lot easy to make. So make it already!

Allspice dram is a simple liqueur flavored with allspice berries. It’s also known as pimento dram, because allspice is a berry from the pimento tree. (But pimento makes most people think of olives, so I don’t like to call it that.) There’s nothing like it. It’s a big part of Tiki drinks, adding a dark, strong, and spicy counterpoint to rum and sweet ingredients.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Allspice Dram? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: Delightful Pear Liqueur

This homemade liqueur is the perfect match for Champagne! That makes it the perfect match for me.

During the winter, many of the more showy fruits are out of season, but you can still find decent pears. (You have to love a fruit that goes equally well with stinky cheese and pork chops as it does with Champagne and brandy.)

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Pear Liqueur?  on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: Get Tiki with Falernum

You may not have heard of falernum, but if you love Tiki cocktails then you probably love falernum. It’s a combination of lime and spices, either as a rum liqueur or a syrup. Give it a try!

Falernum is indispensable in Tiki drinks, brightening the sour notes of citrus and adding a hint of rich spice. But it also plays well with slightly bitter flavors. If you’re at all interested in Tiki cocktails, this stuff is a must-have for your home bar.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Falernum? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Spiced Rum

If you like spiced rum, there is no reason on Earth that you shouldn’t infuse your own. It’s so easy a drunk pirate could do it!

All the spices are common grocery-store finds you probably have in the cupboard already. Since you just need a pinch of this and a couple of that, the only significant cost is the rum. You’ll end up with a more elaborate and rich mix of spices than you’ll find in the store-bought kinds.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Spiced Rum? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan