Falernum is a Caribbean concoction of rum, sugar, lime, ginger, almond and spices (usually allspice and cloves) – a Tiki staple that plays nice with so much more than just rum. The problem is that it can be tricky to find and while the easiest one to come by – John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum – is nice stuff, it’s not a patch on a really good golden falernum. The internet abounds with home-made falernum recipes but they often go a bit funky after a few weeks and take up valuable fridge space. They can also be a bit labour intensive. If only there were a way to make a shelf stable golden falernum cheaply and easily that would keep at room temperature for many, many months. I got this.
The following might be a bit controversial but please hear me out. Lime is a key component of falernum and all the recipes I’ve seen use fresh lime juice or peel. Which is why they go off. It occurred to me that, given that falernum contains both lime and sugar perhaps those two ingredients could be replaced with Rose’s Lime Cordial – which is, of course pretty much imperishable. OMG. Did he actually just suggest using that nasty stuff? Hang on – stay with me guys! So, I decided to give it a go and eventually came up with this recipe and – in my humble opinion – it’s good. Damn good. I’m prepared to concede that a fresh lime version might have the edge but in a cocktail this recipe is easily good enough. It’s certainly waaaaaay better than Taylor’s. Proceed as follows…
Shelf Stable Falernum (about 500ml)
Crush gently in a mortar and pestle 12 cloves and 6 dried allspice berries. Don’t try to powder them, just crack them open a bit. Put the remains into a small jar with 150ml of dry gold rum of at least 40% ABV (I use Havana Club Anejo Especial). Leave for two days, shaking well at least twice per day.
Allspice and cloves
Extracting the spicy goodness
2 days later:
Filter the rum and spice mix until clear with a paper coffee filter.
Make 150ml of 1.5 : 1 sugar syrup (150ml sugar to 100ml boiled water).
Mix both of the above with:
120ml Rose’s Lime Cordial.
80ml ginger syrup (often found in the baking section of your supermarket).
Half a teaspoon (2.5ml) almond extract (really, that is plenty).
Half a teaspoon of citric acid crystals (if you skip this it will probably still be fine).
Mix well and pour into a clean sterilised bottle.
Shelf stable golden falernum
Give it a good shake now and then in the first few days and after that just before use. If you’ve done this right it should keep for a minimum of 6 months. Maybe longer – I’ve always finished it all before then…
Put your falernum to good use in a Saturn, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Jet Pilot, Corn ‘n’ Oil, Calico Jack or Blackbeard’s Ghost.
XXX Update XXX
Two years and many batches later I can confirm that there is still no spoilage after 9 months at room temperature.
XXX Update 2 XXX
Five and a half years later (and still the most read article here by far). These days I’m using 100ml of Mount Gay Eclipse and 50ml of Wray & Nephew overproof as the rum component. Also I should add that the recipe has a tendency to flocculate. In other words small flecks can form in the mixture. Note that this is not spoilage – just certain components falling out of solution. Just give it a hard shake until they disappear.
By Quiddity 9th May 2021 - 7:40 pm
Yet another question arises in my apparently interminable journey towards a Swedish Zombie . . .
It turns out that it is almost impossible to acquire Rose’s cordial in this Viking backwater (and don’t get me started on white grapefruit). What I can get is Monin lime cordial. Now, the internet suggests (a) that this is better than Rose’s, but (b) that it has a distinctly lemony note owing to the, err, lemon juice in it. So I wonder/worry whether it will actually substitute well in this here shelf-stable falernum. Any thoughts? Ta!
There are abundant recipes out there for making your own lime cordial, but they all seem to contain fresh juice, which of course would just reintroduce the problem that using Rose’s here solves. I did wonder about making cordial using the stuff that comes in a squeezy plastic lime or similar — presumably that’s stuffed with preservatives. But would the taste be too far off? Hmmmm.
By Andy 10th May 2021 - 11:15 am
No Rose’s? I’m in shock as I thought that was available everywhere. Although I’ve never tried it I think the Monin is probably still your best bet. If it remains too lemony you could add some of the preserved lime juice to redress the balance. But yes, you could also make your own cordial based on preserved lime juice (That lime juice is usually just pasteurised) and sugar. If you get the sweet/sour balance right you should end up with something better than Rose’s anyway.
White grapefruit juice is a challenge here too. I’ve recently found a middle-eastern grocer who always has nice fresh ones – maybe the same is true in Sweden?
Your persistence in your Zombie quest – against all odds – is as admirable as it is worthwhile. It’s a stunning drink if made correctly. Good luck!
By Quiddity 12th May 2021 - 5:03 pm
Ha — I’m starting to feel like Ahab after his whale. I will get there!
I was surprised about Rose’s too, not least because I am sure I’ve seen it on shelves here before. But it seems that shops that used to stock it no longer do. I think the stuff is manufactured in and exported from the UK, so I do wonder whether this is a Brexit thing. I did find a distributor who would sell crates of 6 bottles to trade customers, but I’m not quite ready to open a bar for the sake of a Zombie. Yet.
Anyway, having thought about it, I reckon i’m going to go the route of the home-made cordial with pasteurised juice. Should get the longevity, and I’d have to mail-order the Monin syrup, so.
As for grapefruits, I’m not sure there is a middle eastern grocer in this town, but I will find out. Again, I did find a distributor willing to sell boxes of 45 white grapefruit to trade customers . . .
By Andy 14th May 2021 - 11:32 am
I feel your pain. It does sound like a Brexit thing. Contrary to popular belief there are some good bottled lime juices out there. We once did a blind test with a couple of the better ones vs freshly squeezed and the differences were barely noticeable.