Falernum #8

Six weeks ago or thereabouts, the good Dr. Cocktail set a little corner of the cocktail- & tiki-blogging community a-twitter with an in-depth discussion of the classic Barbados liqueur / sweetener known as falernum. As those who, for some inexplicable reason, have been visiting this blog since last summer may attest, I’ve been on a sporadic quest to create my own falernum, one that will compare in flavor and surpass in freshness the commercial brands that are available (in certain markets, typically not Seattle, which was another impetus behind taking on this mission). After Doc’s story came out, I talked big about having landed the Giant Falernum, then quickly had to scurry into my kitchen to make sure I knew what I was talking about.

I didn’t, but that’s nothing new.

Still, by that point I’d got my hackles up — no falernum’s going to make a monkey outta me! — and I embarked on several more rounds of falernum experimentation before finally arriving at this recipe. I liked it fine, but distrusting my tastebuds, I took some to Tales of the Cocktail where I sought the expert opinions of Dr. Cocktail and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The experts succeeded in getting a taste down without gagging, making me damn proud, and Doc even gave me an uneasy smile before offering me $5 to go sit at a different table. I consider that a ringing endorsement.

Now, as I’m kind of tired of messing with the recipe — you have no idea how my family is reacting to a refrigerator full of mason jars with green, funky-smelling liquids in them (and that’s in the spaces between the vermouth bottles) — I thought I’d share it with my readers. Both of you.

Falernum #8

  • 6 ounces Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum
  • zest of 9 medium limes, removed with a microplane grater or sharp vegetable peeler, with no traces of white pith
  • 40 whole cloves (buy fresh ones — not the cloves that have been in your spice rack since last Christmas)
  • 1 1/2 ounce, by weight, peeled, julienned fresh ginger

Combine these ingredients in a jar and seal, letting the mixture soak for 24 hours. Then, strain through moistened cheesecloth, squeezing the solids to extract the last, flavorful bits of liquid.

Add:

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract*
  • 14 ounces cold process 2:1 simple syrup (two parts sugar to one part water, shaken in a jar or bottle WITHOUT HEAT until all the sugar is dissolved)
  • 4 1/2 ounces fresh, strained lime juice

Shake it all together and serve.

* Chad Solomon from Pegu Club suggested adding some toasted almonds to the soak, in addition to using the almond extract. This sounds like a fine idea, and may be part of falernums 9, 10 and 11.

Is it the be-all and end-all of falernums? Of course not — rather, it’s an easy and cheap way to make a fairly obscure flavoring that’s essential in a class of exotic drinks. As it uses fresh ingredients, it has (to my palate) a better aroma and snappier flavor than the commercial brands I’ve tried. Of course, this freshness also limits its shelf life, so make small batches — this recipe may easily be halved — keep it refrigerated and use it within a month or so. Either chuck the old falernum or, better yet, just have a big swizzle party before your batch expires.

You can also customize this recipe. If you really like the tartness of the Fee’s falernum, for example, you can either add more lime juice (be careful though; the flavor will take over) or you can track down some citric acid crystals and add them to your mix (it won’t be as natural and pure, of course, but what the hell — it’s your drink).

If anyone decides to give this a spin, toss a note my way in the comments — I’m curious to hear what other folks think.

75 Responses to Falernum #8

  1. [...] falernum for my own project was that so many of the recipes posted seem to be based off of Paul Clarke’s Falernum #8.  In fact, while in Las Vegas in January I visited Frankie’s Tiki Room with Paul and we [...]

  2. Have any of you tried freezing this in ice cube trays? Just wondering if it would work, perhaps make it last longer?

  3. Paul, any thoughts on using liquid fructose syrup instead of the simple? My impression is that this would be very neutral, have great viscosity, and lend to the natural fruit flavors of the lime.

  4. Wow, that’s going over my head (which isn’t hard) — though you may be onto something. If you do try it out, please let me know the results!

  5. As I look over your recipe, and see that method for simple syrup, I’m thinking how great it will be to use this for baking my favorite white chocolate cake which uses simple syrup to help with keeping the moistness factor correct. Beeats the tar out of boiling fer sure fer sure!

    Also, when I try this recipe, I’m gonna try it with toasted pecans from out in the yard, provided the squirrels haven’t buried them all! Just to add that Texas Touch… ;p

    Oh, hey, it’s nice to meet y’all too!

  6. [...] Falernum:  A spiced lime liqueur, popular in the Caribbean and a classic tiki staple.  It is flavored with almond, citrus, cloves and sugar.  This time I can’t really recommend Fee Bros (even though he gave me a ride to the airport that one time) but I will recommend John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum and if you want to spice it up, try Paul Clarke’s no. 8 Falernum, it is what I make and love.  All praise be to the Cocktail Chro… [...]

  7. New to the overproof rum. I ended up getting the 151 proof Goslings dark rum. Is the proof value relevant as it seems to dominate the smell of it after mixing it all together….where I expected it to smell more like cloves/lime (is the Wray & Nephew proof value less) ?

    Kari

  8. Just found this doing a Google search for falernum recipes. Thanks, I’ll give it a try! My question is have you improved on #8 at all? Did you make a 9, 10 and 11?

  9. I made a batch of this following the recipe exactly. The result is pure bliss and made me a rock star with my fellow rum hounds. OK, perhaps that overstates things a bit but they LOVED the spicy complex flavor. We added 1/2 ounce to a standard daiquiri recipe – outstanding!

  10. I have been making this for a while. First I made it to make Zombies as an experiment. Most that participated in the field trials don’t remember much. ;^)

    Now I make it just to take the edge off of rum or to drink a small bit all on its own. It is a wonderful flavor.

    I did make it once with adding some allspice to the zest, overproof rum, clove, ginger soak and it was a very nice addition. It was a special treat for a Jamaican friend.

    I use the excess lime juice (9 limes make a lot of juice!) either to marinade seafood or as a good start to a batch of quick margarita mix to have at the ready. I do have to say that when I (or my wife) is in the mood for a first rate margarita we use fresh squeezed lime juice sweetened with agave nectar instead.

  11. I made #8 with a few changes. I like allspice flavor, so I added 10 allspice, and let the cloves and allspice sit in the rum for 24 hrs before adding ginger and lime zest. for another 24.

    Although I said when I made it that “it was too much work and I would never make it again,” in fact it is so delicious (and made a surprising amount) that I will definitely make it again.

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