Recipes

How To Make Falernum, the Classic Tiki Staple

A man stirring a tiki drink
Photos by Sarah Freeman.

Just as any good bartender is useless without a shaker, any tiki bar worth its banana dolphins is nothing without a bottle of falernum. The rum-based syrup, with notes of almond, lime and ginger, dates back to the 19th century and has had a strong resurgence with the new tiki movement. At Three Dots & a Dash in Chicago, the creation is crucial in classics such as the Corn & Oil (Blackstrap rum, falernum and lime juice) or the house cocktail the Three Dots & a Dash (aged rhum agricole, rum, honey, falernum, allspice and Angostura bitters).

Beverage director Kevin Beary is admittedly new to the tiki game, so when he took on the task of creating a falernum for the popular tiki bar, he took a more scientific approach. Call it the falernum trials, if you will, a series of rigorous samplings that included variations in base rum (alternating between Wray & Nephew Jamaican overproof and Hamilton’s Demerera 151), sugar type and technique.

“After all of the variations, I found that it was inconsistent. When you’re macerating fresh lime zest and ginger in a liquid for 24 hours, depending on the raw products going in, you’re going to get some variation,” Beary explains. “So the concept I came up with was to figure out what to proportions of falernum was. That’s what I’m calling ‘The Falernum Equation,’ which breaks down to two parts sugar, one part flavor, to three-quarter parts acid. Once I was able to identify that, I went after trying to blend those individual items into our desired flavor profile.”

The result is a hybrid recipe of sorts that compliments clove and lime-infused rum with pure lime and ginger juice, as well as almond milk.

Ingredients

  • 20 oz. Demerera syrup 2:1
  • 2.5 oz. clove-infused rum
  • 2.5 oz. lime zest-infused rum
  • 2.5 oz. fresh ginger juice
  • 2.5 oz. almond milk
  • 7.5 oz. fresh lime juice

Ginger in a wooden bowl in front of ingredients in glasses.

20 grams of whole cloves are infused in 6 oz. of Wray & Nephew overproof rum for 24-hours.

Limes being zested.

The same procedure is used to infuse 32 grams of lime zest in in 6 oz. of rum.

For the almond milk, combine water and almonds in medium container and place in refrigerator for 24-hours. Drain water. Weigh almonds and combine with equal parts water. Pour in blender pulse on high. Pour contents into nut bag and press milk.

Hands shredding ginger.

Peel ginger and juice with juice extractor. Juice 8-10 while limes and train off pulp through fine strainer.

Ginger being juiced.

Combine all ingredients and stir well.

Juices in mixing glasses.

Stirring in a mixing glass.

The Brix count, or sugar content, should be 2:1 or 50.

Pour into a clean glass bottle. Store in the refrigerator. Combined falernum will hold for up to one month.

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