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How to make Falernum

FalernumSo, maybe you never made the tonic, or perhaps limoncello isn't your thing. Did you at least make simple syrup? Here's a recipe for something that's really easy. It's a delicious ingredient for tropical cocktails that you can buy, but it's hard to find and making it only takes minutes. Chances are, the flavor will be better and you'll have fun doing it.

Falernum is an exotic rum-based liqueur from Barbados that is infused with flavors of lime and spices. The simplest recipe comes from Rick at Kaiser Penguin, but we added some toasted almonds to the mix. He breaks it down into two basic steps. First, you prepare the rum infusion that sits overnight. Then, you prepare a rich simple syrup. Strained and combined, your falernum is ready to use.

Falernum
Infusion:
8 oz overproof rum (or any rum you like)
8 limes, zest only
50 cloves
1 tablespoon allspice berries
.5 cup of chopped ginger
.25 cup chopped almonds
1 whole nutmeg

Place the rum, lime zest and ginger into a jar. Toast the cloves, allspice and nutmeg until aromatic. Add these to the jar and seal. You can even toast the almonds if you like, just don't burn them. Add all of this to the jar and seal. Agitate the jar a few times over the next 24 hours. Strain through cheesecloth or a filter and discard the solids.

Syrup:
2 cups raw, turbinado or demerera sugar
1 cup water
10 drops almond extract

Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until dissolved. Allow to cool, then add almond extract.

Combine filtered rum infusion and cool syrup. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Most falernum recipes also include lime juice, but this version skips it. According to Rick, the lime juice has a tendency to turn bad, and leaving it out seems to solve the problem. He may be right because ours is very stable. One bottle is over a year old now and it's still just as good as the day it was made. Besides, this stuff is already pretty strong in the lime department, and you can always add it fresh when needed.

Falernum is sweet, so it often gets used in small quantities. It will be an essential ingredient in the upcoming Drink of the Week with a nod to the Minnesota State Fair, but until then, here's a delicious and simple treat that showcases the flavors of your falernum by combining it with dark rum. It's a sweet cocktail, but if you like rum and coke, this really takes it up a notch!

Corn & Oil
2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap rum
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz homemade falernum

Build over ice in a rocks glass. Stir thoroughly to chill, adding more ice if needed. Garnish with a lime wedge

8 comments to How to make Falernum

  • Paul

    Hi Randy ! Do you think I can use Bacardi 151° Rum ?
    What can the rest of it be used for ? I suppose it tastes really awful, but maybe if you mix it with something ?

    • Paul, you can definitely use Bacardi to make falernum. I think that's what I used when I made my first batch. I don't know if it's a coincidence, but the first time I ever made falernum was the best. I haven't been able to make a batch since that I like more. That first batch also lasted more than a year in the refrigerator which makes me think the 151 preserved the final product a lot better than alternatives I have used since then. The whole point is to get good flavor extraction with a concentrated solvent.

      When you are done making falernum, there area few tiki recipes that call for 151. Many will specify Demerara (Lemon Hart) so not those recipes. Checkout Jeff Berry's books or the Tiki+ app if you are an iPhone/iPad user.

      If you really want to get rid of it, you might also use Bacardi 151 in anything that calls for light rum and simply dilute it with water to bring it down to normal proof, or use it at half strength in a punch recipe which is a good way to burn through any spirits you might have taking up space.

  • Paul

    Dear Randy,
    is the almond extract you add to the syrup, the one made from bitter almonds ?

  • Paul

    Hi Randy ! I finished a batch of Falernum today, and I'm looking forward to tasting it. It smells very spicy and the almond axtract is prominent, as well as the lime zest. I made half a batch and ended up with 33cl, which is just enough for about 60 cocktails saying you use .5 oz per drink. Before mixing it with the syrup it was very green, but the final product is dark brown. Are there many drinks calling for Falernum. I have read your recipies of Albert Swizzle Park, and Chartreuse Swizzle. Will try the Corn and Oil above as well. Thank you for sharing so much of your knowledge !

  • Paul

    I tried it in Corn and Oil and it was very potent, but after reading some other recipies I decided to make a new batch, as I peeled the lime zest with a potato peeler and got the white pith as well, and I think this created too much bitterness. It's hard when you don't know how a good falernum should taste. I did a new batch though and grated the zest making sure I only got the green outer part. The second time around I used turbinado sugar and this made a lighter syrup. The demerara sugar made it very dark. After I was done I compared the two and I think the second batch made a better falernum, not so bitter and more balanced. When it sits there is some residue collecting at the surface of the bottle, but i give it a good shake before using. Next time I will probably filter it through a coffee filter after the cheesecloth.

    Why is the drink called corn and oil- the oil is the blackstrap rhum I guess, but is the corn supposed to represent the falernum ?

    • I don't know why it's called the Corn & Oil besides the fact that the rum is dark. I inspired by your work on this. Today is a cocktail syrup day for me. I need to make falernum, orgeat and ginger.

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