Falernum is a flavored syrup used in Caribbean drinks and Tiki cocktails. You could say it’s the big brother to orgeat, a simpler almond syrup ubiquitous in drinks like the Mai Tai. Though ingredients may vary, falernum is usually made with almonds, lime, ginger, clove and other spices. At Subject we had great success with our housemade orgeat during last year’s warmer months in drinks like the Rye Tai (Old Overholt rum, Kronan Swedish Punsch, housemade orgeat, housemade orange bitters, fresh lime). And though John. D. Taylor and others make various affordable alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, we decided to take matters into our own hands again this year in creating a housemade falernum. Consider this a practice round, but expect to see the final version on our cocktail menu soon.
You’ll need: almonds, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, limes, sugar and water.
We started by crushing a generous handful of almonds and lightly toasting them in a pan. Next we added a quart of water and stirred the almonds for a bit. Then in went six cloves, two vanilla stalks, two cinnamon stalks, a couple pieces of star anise and the zest of a few limes. Once the solution reached a steady boil we stirred in a quart of sugar and, after a few minutes at a low boil, cut the heat and allowed the solution to steep with the lid on for twenty minutes. Finally we fine-strained the concoction into another pot and added the juice of the zested limes and four ounces of Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur, both of which should help preserve the syrup (which should, of course, be refrigerated). Fresh ginger should work great, though I’d recommend juicing the ginger or slicing it finely before adding to mixture.
After evaporation, the final yield was 1.5 qt. falernum syrup. This rich, viscous syrup has a toasty tropical flavor that should mix well with sugar cane-based (and other) spirits, tart citrus and other fresh mixers. To me it tastes kind of like Life cereal, my favorite as a kid. Stop by for a taste if interested, and we’ll update you when our falernum makes it onto the menu. Cheers!