This secret sauce goes back to the 1930’s through 1970’s from the start of the tiki pop culture to its utter demise. Don’s Spice #2 was the label on a super secret mix that was used by Don The Beachcomber in his tiki cocktails. As the number suggests, all of Don Beach’s special ingredients were given a number so that bartenders didn’t know what was inside of it and thus, those bartenders couldn’t be stolen by competition to reproduce the famous tiki drinks made by Don Beach and his restaurant and chains.
Turns out, after years of research (mainly by folks like Jeff Berry and other historians of tiki) Don’s Spice #2 is a blend of vanilla and allspice with perhaps a little hint of clove. Here is our version of the recipe, which is a bit softer (less aggressive on flavor and bite) than B.G Reynold’s Don’s Spice #2 / Tiki Spices (no longer in active production).
- 24g Whole Allspice
- 16 Whole Cloves
- 4 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) Cane Sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) Water
Combine sugar and water in a pot and stir to integrate the sugar into the water. Let sit while you crush up 24g of allspice berries (we use a wooden mallet, ziplock bag and some hammering). Crush up 16 cloves much like you did the allspice (or use a pestle and mortar if available). Take the crushed up spices and add into the sugar water that has been sitting in a pot. Add your vanilla extract to the pot of spices and water and stir to lift the sugars into the water and bring to a boil.
Once the sugar syrup is boiling, set your timer for 1-minute and stir while the liquid boils. Your sugar should clear and become integrated but it will be hard to tell as the allspice will darken the liquid to a brown color. Once a minute has passed, turn off the heat and leave your liquid on the burner for 20-minutes occasionally stirring. This 20-minutes will allow your spices to integrate themselves further into the sugar syrup, if you want to let them sit another ten minutes, it will only make the flavor more allspice forward and yummy.
Strain your syrup into a mason jar or other storage vessel utilizing a filter such as a cheese cloth or coffee filter. Cheese cloth will be your friend here because the coffee filter will drain extremely slowly and be difficult to squeeze out all the remaining flavor. With cheese cloth you can take the berries and clove and squeeze the remaining sugars by applying pressure to the cheese cloth (twist the top of the cheese cloth to avoid your allspices falling out, then add pressure with your fingers to unleash any remaining syrup from the bundle of cloth and berries).
While it seems this syrup will yield 8 ounces, it often comes in between 5-6 ounces in the batch as the allspice and clove absorb some of the liquid and refuses to release it while a little boils off during the cook process. We created a 32 ounces batch (with 32 ounces of simple syrup) and only yielded 22 ounces of final product! So keep that in mind when batching for parties.
You should refrigerate your new Don’s Spice #2 / Allspice Syrup and it should stay good for 3-weeks or more. If you wish to extend the life of your mix, add a 1/2 oz of vodka to the final product, give it a shake to integrate and it should last upwards of 3-months. If you’d like a longer lasting product, double your sugar to 8 oz. to 4 oz. water and make a rock candy syrup, just beware you’ll need to use less in most of your cocktails.