A quintessential ingredient in Tiki drinks, falernum is a spiced, sweet and citrusy syrup or liqueur used to flavour rum-based tropical cocktails.
What is Falernum
Falernum has primary flavours of clove, almonds and lime peel. The flavour profile is vibrant, a little on the dry end of the spectrum with bursts of spice and citrus. Falernum can be non-alcoholic but most cocktails call for the alcoholic version which is referred to as Velvet Falernum.
In this How-To/DIY project, Thor Bergquist, Co-Owner of PS40 Bar in Sydney shares his recipe for making falernum, pro tips for getting the best flavour and how to use falernum in cocktails.
How to Make Falernum
Recipe by Thor Bergquist, Co-Owner of PS40 Bar, Sydney
- peeled zest of 15 limes
- 42 cloves
- 20 pimento berries
- 70g young ginger, peeled then grated
- 350 ml of neutral wheat spirit (97% ABV)
- 1 litre of rum (with high vanilla flavour profile)
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 750g white sugar
small pan, large glass jar with tight lid, chinois or strainer lined with cheese cloth, clean glass bottle
- In a small pan, dry toast the cloves and pimento berries to release the aromas and extract oils from the spices.
- Add all the ingredients except the sugar to a glass jar, cover and leave to infuse for 48 hours in a cool, dark spot away from sunlight.
- After 48 hours, stir in the sugar until dissolved. Do not heat the mixture.
- Filter through a chinois or a cheese cloth lined strainer. It should yields around 1.5 litres with approximately 30% ABV.
- There is no need to refrigerate falernum as the high alcohol and sugar ensure it keeps indefinitely.
- Always peel the citrus instead of grating to ensure less contact with the pith and less bitterness as a result.
- Take time to toast the spices evenly at around 80oC, constantly stirring for even toasting.
- Use young ginger that’s soft with pale coloured skin to give it freshness.
- Use a neutral base spirit with an ABV greater than 60% but preferably 97%. The higher the alcohol content, the more it draws out the flavours.
- Experiment with different flavours.
To make falernum you need a base of clove, almonds and lime but you can try different ingredients and adding your unique combination of flavours such as a Mexican falernum with cinnamon and coconut steeped in overproof Tequila or Mezcal. You can also try coffee flavoured falernum in a whisky base to highlight the richness of chocolate.
How to Use Falernum in Cocktails
Many Tiki cocktails call for falernum such as Three Dots and a Dash (rum, lime juice, orange juice, honey syrup, falernum), Nuclear Daiquiri (overproof rum, Chartreuse Verte, lime juice, falernum) and World Bermuda Yacht Club cocktail (rum, falernum, triple sec, lime juice). Use it in the Corn ‘n Oil with Black Strap Rum and bitters served on the rocks.
Falernum adds a Tiki element to a non Tiki drink. It is a method of adding a liqueur to a cocktail without overpowering sweetness and can be used as a substitute for sugar syrup in cocktails such as the Mojito and the Daiquiri.
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