If life gives you lemons, make Falernum!

If life gives you lemons, make Falernum!

By the grace of ‘mixology’ and its alchemists, the ‘mixologists’, exotic ingredients, previously unknown for a newcomer yo this cocktail world like me, have began to appear in my kitchen and bar. Even more: suddenly, they are the new “essentials”… That’s the case of falernum, which is sometimes so difficult to find, that some have chosen to make it at home.

Falernum is a sweet syrup that is used as an ingredient in drinks and cocktails in the Caribbean and is characterized by its notes of ginger, cloves, lemon, sometimes vanilla, cinnamon or even almond extract.

It seems that this exotic ingredient that may or may not have alcohol, originated in the Caribbean island of Barbados, the birthplace of killdevil, ancestor of precious rum.

Darcy O’Neil, a chemical engineer dedicated to ‘mixology’ and passionate about the history of drinks and cocktails, refers to what could be the source of the word falernum: when they asked the wife of an old Barbadian for the recipe, she responded in dialect: “Haf to learn um”, meaning “(You) have to learn”, et voila: syrup baptized!

Falernum is a sweetener that enhances the flavor of rum in the preparation of cocktails, by bringing a tropical taste and aroma. When and how was it invented, not much is known, although O’Neil says that in 1896 The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article referring to falernum.

For those of you who want to make your own falernum, following is the recipe that I adapted from the one published in 2006, by cocktail guru Paul Clarke at his The Cocktail Chronicles blog.

Falernum | Ingredients for 4 cups
6 ounces white rum (I used Ron de Venezuela Santa Teresa Claro)
The peal of 6 lemons with no trace of the white part (I used Meyer lemons)
40 cloves
2 ounces of grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon almond extract
14 ounces of sweet syrup prepared by dissolving two parts sugar to one part water (without heating).
5 ounces of lemon juice strained

Combine rum, lemon peel, cloves and ginger in a covered container and let stand refrigerated for one week. Pass through a cloth strainer, which is then squeezed to extract all the liquid and discard solids. Add almond extract, sweet syrup and lemon juice. Mix well. Save in a sterilized bottle. Refrigerate.

To print the recipe click here.


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