Falernum is a subtly spiced sugarcane based liquor with origins in Barbados, but named after Falernian, the most celebrated wine of ancient Rome. Falernum's backbone of sugarcane spells s-w-e-e-t, of course, but as it is infused with lime, almonds, and cloves, it boasts a surprising complexity for a cordial and mixer. It was once a staple in mid-Twentieth Century cocktail bars, but sadly for alcoholics and cocktail afficionados, it's been hard to come by in recent years. Decreasing social acceptance of alcohol abuse and the decreasing hipness and political correctness of lounge and tiki bar culture in turn meant a decreased demand for obscure tropical mixers such as falernum. Thus, large scale exports ceased and the wonders of a falernum-tinged cocktail were available to only a few world travelers and Caribbean sailors.
Thankfully for drunkards in the waking years of the Twenty-first Century, interest in complex cocktails has steadily increased. A handful of varieties of falernum are now exported around the world, giving bartenders and home bar mixologists a new weapon in their arsenal of alcoholism.
Here's an old school drink using falernum:
Don the Beachcomber's "Original" Mai Tai (Don't Tell Vic Bergeron).
1.5 oz. Myers' Plantation rum
1 oz. Cuban rum
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
0.25 oz Falernum
0.5 oz Cointreau
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Herbsaint / absinthe
Shell of squeezed lime
1 cup cracked ice (dime-sized pieces)
4 sprigs mint and a pineapple spear
Combine ingredients in a mixer and shake for one minute. Serve in double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with mint and pineapple.
You can play around with the rums, using Appletons instead of Myer's rum and Pusser's Navy instead of a Cuban rum.
And here's a new-fangled falernum drink:
The Velvet Fog:
1.5 oz Stolichnaya Orange vodka
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz falernum
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Shake the vodka, lime juice, falernum, orange juice and bitters with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
Hold a lit match over the glass. Take the orange twist in your free hand, hold it above the match, and squeeze it- falling through the flame, the orange oils and juice will caramelize on their journey down to rest on top of the cocktail.