Before embarking on a falernum-making adventure, I did a bit of reading and ended up compiling a list of falernum recipes. Falernum is an ingredient that pop ups every now and then in tiki cocktails, with one of the most famous examples being the Zombie.
Falernum is a syrup that is pretty common in the Caribbean. During a trip in Saint Lucia a few years ago, I bought a bottle. Over there, even the most basic grocery store in Soufrière has it in stock, together with a selection of rums (however finding butter or eggs can be a different story, but I digress). This is the basis for the Corn N’ Oil, a mix of dark rum and falernum.
Falernum typically gets its flavor from cloves, ginger, almonds, and lime. The taste of the commercial product was quite subtle, akin to a slightly flavored simple syrup. So this was my baseline, and I thought I would try to improve on it by making my own. I looked at various recipes that I am summarizing below (listed by publication date).
- The recipe by Dale DeGroff and its scaled-down version (2003): white rum, lime zest, cloves, almond extract + simple syrup.
- Falernum #8 by Paul Clarke (2006) where he adds ginger and lime juice to Dale DeGroff’s recipe and uses Wray & Nephew overproof rum.
- Jeffrey Morgenthalers’ variation on Paul Clarke’s falernum #8 (2007) where he recommends soaking the cloves in rum for a few days prior to adding the lime zest and ginger.
- Paul Clarke’s falernum #9 (2007) – similar to the #8 formula with the addition of toasted almonds. This was the version published in Imbibe magazine and Beachbum Berry Remixed.
- Paul Clarke’s falernum #10 (2008): similar to #9 but no lime juice and the cloves are toasted.
- Chris Hannah’s recipe (2008) is also based on Paul Clarke’s falernum #8 and was posted by Jeff Berry on his site: amber rum (Old New Orleans 3-year) with lime zest, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, coffee beans, toasted pecans + lime juice, simple syrup, almond extract.
- Rumdood’s falernum #2 (2009) which is another variation on Paul Clarke’s falernum #8 with W&N + 151 overproof rums, lime zest, cloves, ginger, star anise + simple syrup, lime juice, lemon juice and almond extract.
- The recipe by Kaiser Penguin (2009) uses lime zest, cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg + simple syrup and almond extract. No lime juice because it “just [keeps] on fermenting and getting nasty”.
- Kaiser Penguin’s 5-minute falernum recipe (2010) – same as above without the almond extract and made in an iSi whipper.
- Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s falernum (2010) is a mixture of overproof and aged rums, lime zest, cloves, ginger, star anise, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, black peppercorns, toasted almonds, vanilla bean + simple syrup and orgeat.
- Marcia Simmons’ recipe on Serious Eats (2012): white rum, lime zest, cloves, toasted almonds, lime juice and simple syrup (no ginger).
In the end, I decided to go with the Elmegirab recipe as my starting point. It had the most interesting mix of spices so I thought it would yield a flavorful product.