Ah Falernum, a spicy tropical sweetener that’s a must have for many of the most classic Tiki cocktails. Where to find it however? What brand should you buy? Is it a liqueur or a syrup? Fuck, I just wanted a cocktail not a scavenger hunt. Lets be honest Tiki usually involves items that your local bar doesn’t stock much less your pantry. When it comes to Falernum there’s a lot of people with different ideas about what it is and what goes in it. It gets pretty damn complicated.
The basics about Falernum that you should know is that it is a mildly alcoholic sweetener from the Caribbean primarily flavored of lime, allspice, and ginger. The Velvet brand is out there and it’s used in many fine bars by many great bartenders. However when you taste it it’s just sort of meh. It’s sweet enough, but more anise than I thought with mild notes of clove and vanilla. For me I kept wanting to make my own, but life kept getting in the way and lets face it we all get lazy from time to time. Being invited to bartend a regular Tiki night at one of the best local cocktail spots I knew now was the time. I went back to an article written by the amazing Kaiser Penguin. His site may be dormant, but the content there is still amazing. I used his recipe as a basis adding my own flavor tweaks. I had seen vanilla mentioned in many references to falernum, and demerera 151 is to rare and precious to waste in a syrup. I also wanted to preserve the color and fight a case of the browns as best I could. The result is very damn flavorful and pack that punch that I want from a Rated R Cocktails recipe. I hope you agree.
8 oz Wray and Nephew
50 Cloves (About 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp allspice berries
2 sticks ceylon cinnamon crushed
1 nutmeg bulb cracked with a hammer into a few pieces
the zest of 8 limes
¾ cup batonnet sliced ginger
1 split vanilla bean, scraped into the mixture
Toast the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice lightly on medium high heat and add to a mason jar containing the zest, ginger, and bean. Pour the rum over and seal, shaking about every 8 hours. Then just leave the jar on the counter and don’t unseal for 24 hours.
The Syrup and Finishing
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp almond extract
Combine all in a small saucepan and bring to a boil before removing from the heat making sure to stir often. Strain the Rum base and combine the infused rum with the syrup whisking well to combine. Then bottle and store in the refrigerator.
The syrup hits in a rich blast, allspice, ginger, lime, and vanilla all joining in as a swing band of flavor. The taste here is tremendous and works perfectly in the half ounce to teaspoons seen in many classic recipes. This leads me to believe I’m on the right track. If you try this recipe I think you’ll end up agreeing.
Don’t wait as long as I did to make your own Falernum. The most annoying part is the lime zesting, but with a beer and a microplane you’ll get it done. Make sure to avoid the white pith and just get the green goodness. Until next time…
“You get Hammered America!” – JFL