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Feb27

Make Your Own Falernum

falernum ingredients soaking in overproof rum

[ If you're one of those skimmer types, you might want to look near the bottom of this post, because I'm giving away a year's worth of falernum. ]

Falernum is one of those mystery ingredients that, more often than not, stop you in your tracks when you’re looking for a new drink. There are some commercial versions out there that you might consider subbing, like Velvet Falernum, which isn’t all that bad of a product, and then there’s Fee’s Falernum. Yep, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Making your own falernum takes 10 minutes. Sure, like making bread, those 10 short minutes span a 24 hour period, but the effort is well worth the minimal pain. Falernum can be broken down into two simple steps.

Step 1 – Soak Lots of Tasty Things in Rum

Your options here are nearly endless or if you’re a purist, fairly limited. I’ve gone as far to add something like 15 different spices to my falernum, creating a wicked spiderweb of flavor that verged on perfection craziness. You can definitely go this route, but my goal here is to get you to make falernum, so I’m going to share my favorite recipe with you. And it’s very simple. That said, I know this statement comes from someone who feels comfortable calling the French Laundry cookbook his bitch.

The Toast and Soak

  • 8oz rum (preferably an overproof rum like Wray and Nephew or Lemon Hart 151, but use your favorite rum if you have neither)
  • 50 cloves
  • 1T whole allspice
  • 1 nutmeg
  • 8 limes, zested
  • 1/2c julienned ginger

Toast the cloves, allspice, and nutmeg in a skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Drop the spices and remaining ingredients into the rum. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit on the counter to get happy for 24 hours.

Step 2 – Make the Syrup

You’re pretty much done at this point. All that’s left is to strain the deliciously infused rum and add it to syrup. Really, it’s not hard.

The Syrup

  • 2c sugar (preferably pure cane sugar that’s not been refined too much, but don’t let this limit you)
  • 1c water
  • 10 drops almond extract

Heat the sugar and water over medium-low heat and stir to dissolve, about 5 minutes. Strain your soaking mix through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into the syrup; press on the solids to get as much goodness out of it as you can. Add the almond extract. Bottle. Rejoice!

Why Adding Lime Juice to Your Falernum is Evil

I used to always add 4oz of lime juice to my falernum, and nearly 35% of the time, it became a mixture that only Captain Planet could save from the nefarious Sergeant Sludge: gross floaty black bits with a “freshly dead” smell. Yum. After much discussion with Gabe, Craig, and Blair, we determined it was the sneaky lime juice that was causing the rot. For the most part, 2:1 syrups and lots of booze prevent spoilage, but that pesky lime juice just kept on fermenting and getting nasty.

If you miss the fresh kick that lime juice gives your falernum, just add a touch of it to your cocktail when you use falernum. Problem solved. MacGyver would be pleased.

The Falernum Challenge

I know that a lot of you are going to read this post and sigh, thinking you can never make your own falernum or will never be this intense. You will also probably not be as awesomely insane as Doug, who has been making tiki drinks all month, including his own falernum. Hell, you probably groan when you have to make simple syrup. But I want to change all that.

The Prize

Homemade Falernum for a year.

How you get it

  • Make your own falernum for the first time, tweaking the recipe I’ve given here.
  • Post in the comments that you’ve done so with a little story about your quest. Do this by March 30th.
  • Mail me a sample (I’ll email you my address once you post in the comments).
  • The tastiest one will be the winner.

That person will receive as much falernum as they need for one year. I’ll make it as often as you need it, and mail it to you.

Aperol Sun

  • 2oz white rum (used Oronoco)
  • 1oz Aperol
  • 1oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2oz falernum
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • grapefruit peel, for garnish

Shake with cracked ice, and strain over ice. Garnish in some ridiculous fashion with the grapefruit peel.

Rick from Kaiser Penguin

Aperol Sun


44 Responses to “Make Your Own Falernum”

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44 Comments to “ Make Your Own Falernum”
  1. [...] member, Rick at Kaiser Penguin, whose falernum post I am ninja-ing here. Here’s the link, where you can see a photo of his entirely unrealistically attractive falernum in progress, as well a…. Oh, and he has a contest, too. PAUL CLARKE’S LOVE POTION FALERNUM [...]

  2. TiareNo Gravatar says:

    This is a fantastic post! well written and fun! awesome picture of the Aperol drink.

    T

  3. I don’t think I’ll be participating, but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post. I came over from Tastespotting and am digging your blog.

  4. SaschaNo Gravatar says:

    Nice read! I will be making my second batch of falernum soon and i’m curious how much a few different spices will change the taste. :)

    My first batch looks like this:
    200ml W&N White Overproof
    50ml Lemon Hart Demerara 151
    2 cinnamon sticks
    4x cest of limes
    1 green cardamom
    6 allspice
    20 cloves
    50ml blanched + toasted almonds
    40ml ginger

    Soak for 3 days, then strain an mix with lime juice and simple syrup

    125 Limettensaft
    250ml Zuckersirup (2:1)

    It is very good, but 2 sticks of cinnamon is too much (christmas olé), so i will cut back on this and add a little more of the rest. :)

    @ Rick: How much ml is a cup in your recipe? Would be nice to know if it is 250ml or ~237ml, so that i can update my little table. ;)

  5. I am going to stop drinking water and only drink a 3:1 Soda:Falurnum mix, so I will be needing roughly 1 gallon of falurnum per week.

    recipe coming.

  6. ReeseNo Gravatar says:

    Great post and fantastic cocktail picture! I’d love to hear about your photo setup sometime if you have a few minutes.

  7. BonzoGalNo Gravatar says:

    Jeebus, I was all set to go until I saw the part about the French Laundry cookbook… Sigh.

    Okay, I will do this thing, but I’m more on a par with Peg Bracken than Thomas Keller. ;)

  8. Jeff FraneNo Gravatar says:

    I’m psyched. I needed to visit Penzey’s Spices anyway, and this is incentive to get in the car and drive over there. I have some Demerara and Muscovado sugars that are screaming for a little attention . . .

  9. seezeeNo Gravatar says:

    lemon-hart & wray & nephew are very different rums; presumably the choice of rums makes a big difference in the outcome. rick (and the kaiser’s gentle readers), which do you prefer, and why?

    –cz

  10. MartinNo Gravatar says:

    “That person will receive as much falernum as they need for one year. I’ll make it as often as you need it, and mail it to you.”

    If I win, will you make it in commercial quantities for me?

  11. Brian / deviatorNo Gravatar says:

    hey – I would like to suggest that you change ’8 limes, zested’ to ‘the zest of 8 limes’ to avoid confusion (which you do explain later on in the post. ;)

  12. What a nice coincidence. I was just finishing up my latest Falernum[#7] (carting, filtering) to send some off to Cass. It’s my best so far. Removing the lime (juice at the end phase) from the finished product has increased my shelf life by… um, well – I finish it far before I can detect any changes in flavor. Base used was the new Cruzan 151.

    What I’ve noticed is that the amount of ingredients for the soak can infuse much more than the 8oz, without any loss of concentration of flavor. I use 750ml of rum (~25oz), leaving for at least a few days. I’ve also been known to soak for as much as a week for full flavor (add the ginger in after a few days, otherwise it tends to get lost).

    Then for the syrup, I do about 1 to 1.5x the solution. Delicious!

    What’s everyone’s favorite falernum recipes? Mine lately is the Cobra’s Fang.

  13. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Tiare, Thanks! Let me know if you try the Aperol Sun; I think you’ll really like it.

    Marc, Just checked out your site, and I dig it. Beautiful photography and some lusty-looking dishes. Cheers!

    Sascha, The cardamom is a really nice addition to falernum, but you’re wise for keeping it at one pod. 1 cup is 237ml in my recipes.

    John, I have trouble believing you’ve never made falernum before…

    Reese, Shoot me an email at rick@kaiserpenguin.com and we’ll chat. I’d actually love to dip into your mind on a few subjects as well.

    BonzoGal, The TK comment was in jest and should not discourage you. Though I think you’re going to have a good bit of competition.

    Jeff, Isn’t Penzey’s awesome? I got a ton of Ceylon cinnamon at their Pittsburgh shop recently.

    seezee, LH151 and JWray are definitely different beasts. I usually use Wray and Nephew overproof for its wonderful vanilla gasoline taste. You bring up a good point though, and one that I want to emphasize. Falernum doesn’t have one single flavor profile (I can feel the flames coming now). If you’re not making it at a bar, and therefore not focusing on consistency, try a few different ones to find which you like best.

    Martin, I think you missed this part: “Make your own falernum for the first time” Though you do use Velvet so much, maybe you’ve never made it yourself?

    Brian, Can you explain some horror that might ensue if you were to take 8 limes and zest them rather than using the zest of 8 limes?

    Craig, Being able to infuse more rum with the same quantity of spices is one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve heard about falernum in a long time. Now I can make huge batches when my soul is sold to some tiki lover this year. My favorite falernum recipe is probably the Jet Pilot, but that’s one of my favorite tiki recipes, so…

  14. Alright, you’re on. Hope you’ve got a lot of bottles ready. I’m going to spend a year drinking falernum drinks after I win this.

  15. Jeff FraneNo Gravatar says:

    My very firstest batch of falernum is done. I did tweak your recipe, using a combination of fresh and dry ginger, dry zest, mace rather than nutmeg, dried tangerine peel and demerara sugar for the syrup. I think it’s fascinating stuff but I have never tasted another falernum so I have no idea how it compares. I believe I would use a white rum if I made this again; the Lemon Hart renders the falernum very dark.

    Now I have to figure out to do with the stuff.

  16. Ok, challenge accepted, first batch of “falernum” complete. How many departures make for a different beverage? Anyway, I used zest of 8 limes & a solid root of ginger, peeled & chopped. Toasted a spoonful of allspice, a cracked nutmeg, two cardamom pods, a few peppercorns, a handful of cloves & a cup or more of blanched & slivered almonds. All in a jar & covered with Wray & Nephew. Steeped 24hrs, strained & added a cup of Indian honey. Don’t know if its the bona fide article, but it smells & tastes good. I have a sample ready for you.

  17. AKNo Gravatar says:

    I made Falernum according to Clarke’s Falernum #9 enstructions but… you’re definitely spot-on about the lime juice. I’m going to do a new batch once finals are over. I might up the lime zest amount… we’ll see…

  18. VidiotNo Gravatar says:

    Okay, I just took a crack at this. Here’s what I used:

    approx. 50 whole cloves
    1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
    1 whole nutmeg, cracked into 5-6 pieces
    2 cinnamon sticks, cracked into a few more pieces
    1 bay leaf
    1 healthy shake of dried peppermint leaves
    1 star anise pod
    half a cup or so of raw almonds

    Toast everything in a skillet till it starts smelling good. Pour the whole shebang into a mortar and pound/grind very slightly, just so things get cracked a little. Put everything in a jar. Add the zest of 10 limes, 1/2 cup julienned fresh ginger root, and 8 oz. Wray & Nephew Overproof. Let sit for a little over 48 hours, shaking periodically. (It was gonna be 24, but I ended up being busier than I’d thought.)

    I have your address unless you’ve moved since November; should I drop a sample in the mail?
    Make simple syrup with 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Add 10 drops almond extract (wound up being a bit more) and half a teaspoon of homemade vanilla extract (a friend made it by infusing dark rum with vanilla beans.) Stir the whole thing together.

  19. VidiotNo Gravatar says:

    whoops, dunno how one of my lines from the end of the post wound up in the middle, but I think you can figure out what I’d meant. :P

  20. [...] it’s overproof, JWray is an excellent spirit for making syrups, such as falernum. Not only is it a workhorse at extracting flavor, but it will add a touch of vanilla to whatever [...]

  21. [...] only were we blessed with one homemade liqueur, but another cocktail ingredient called Falernum. Kaiser Penguin is giving away a year’s supply for the best tasting sample mailed to [...]

  22. ramonesfan05No Gravatar says:

    This look like it might be pretty good and easy to make. All my experience has been with making mead.

  23. pablusNo Gravatar says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I had an individual with an extremely well trained palate who was trying out a few wines at my home and I wanted to throw him a curve so I pulled out my bottle of Sazeracs Falernum and let him have a teaspoon or two.

    “mmmmmm, cherries.”

    He was right. There was always something missing in my quest to approach the Sazeracs in my homemade Falernum, and I got really close, btw, but cherries is the secret ingredient. What kind and how much? Remains to be seen… errr…. tasted.

  24. [...] to this recipe from Gabe over at cocktailnerd.com, and this recipe from Matt at rumdood.com, and this recipe from Rick at kaiserpenguin.com.  I had three to choose from, and so I went with a combination of [...]

  25. [...] Brazilian white rum ¾ oz Ron Matusalem Platino rum ¼ oz Wray & Nephew Overproof rum ½ oz falernum (preferably homemade by Matt, but if you can’t bribe him, substitute freely) ¾ oz ginger syrup 1 [...]

  26. Shirow66No Gravatar says:

    I want to ask anyone who has made Rick’s recipe if they have this problem:
    If I let the bottle stand for a couple of days without shaking it I get a dark sediment type thing on the top.
    I’m afraid it might be mold, although with the high alcohol content I’m a bit puzzled as to why this could have occurred.
    I made a batch before this using regular proof rum and fresh lime juice and it never went bad at all.

  27. RickNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve gotten that too… try straining through cheesecloth when you bottle. You can pour this sediment off or just shake it up… it’s not mold.

  28. Limbo LizardNo Gravatar says:

    Shirrow66 and Rick: The “sediment” (Sediment actually settles, not floats – unfortunately, “scum” would be more correct!) on the top of your falernum is probably lime oil, from the zested lime peel. I have a recipe that uses citric acid and pure lime oil (Boyajian brand), instead of fresh lime juice and zest. It has a good lime flavor and aroma, but the oil tends to float to the top. It is a darkish, olive green color – is that what you’re seeing? I shake it up into an emulsion, before using, but it re-separates, after a while.

  29. Shirow66No Gravatar says:

    Limbo: I actually knew that sediment settles when I wrote that post, but I couldn’t come up with a better name.
    Yes it does look oily and sticks easily to the side of the bottle when I tilt it. The lime oil theory sounds very plausible indeed.

    I’d like to ask people and Rick in particular who have tried manufactured falernum brands how it compares to Rick’s recipe. I personally feel like Rick’s recipe is very potent and strong in flavor, and tends to overtake a drink easily compared to my first falernum batch. Like for example in Blackbeard’s Ghost (amazing drink!)from the Grog Log, it uses 0.5oz of falernum and I felt it sort of drowned the rest of the flavors a bit. Do you usually reduce the amount of falernum in recipes when using your own falernum Rick?

  30. AndrewNo Gravatar says:

    I know this is way late, but had to weigh in.

    10 oz. Bacardi White
    75 whole cloves
    3 cardamom pods
    1 T Whole Allspice berries
    1/2 t sichuan peppercorns (crazy spicy, sappy/resinous and mouth-numbing in cuisine)
    1/2 whole nutmeg broken into ~8 pieces
    1/3 C julienne fresh ginger
    zest of 5 limes
    couple of dashes of ground mace to make up for missing other half of whole nutmeg.

    I’ll make the syrup in a day or 2 and let you all know.

    Cheers!

  31. [...] Still, there are plenty of other wonderful concoctions available, and I had a fresh batch of homemade falernum sitting on my counter. Rum Swizzle (from CocktailDB.com) 1.5 oz rum .5 oz falernum .75 oz lime [...]

  32. [...] Last month Rick over at KaiserPenguin announced a contest for the best homemade falernum by a neophyte. [...]

  33. [...] recipes available online for making Falernum. I’ve tried the ones posted at AoD, RumDood, Kaiser Penguin, and Cocktail Chronicles. They’re all great recipes, and the instructions provided by their [...]

  34. RafeNo Gravatar says:

    @Shirow and @Rick: I’ve had that oily “sediment” appear on my limoncello, as well. Its kinda greenish looking in this case, too. I’m pretty sure that its the produce waxes they apply to the citrus fruits. I’m fairly certain of this for two reasons. One, the density of wax (carnauba or paraffin are typical) is less than liqueur (densities of 0.97 and 0.9, respectively) compared to your liqueur, which is probably greater than 1 due to all the dissolved sugar. So, wax floats to the top. Two, when I’ve made the identical recipe with unwaxed fruits, this has never been an issue.

    Almost every citrus fruit that you buy at the grocery store has been waxed to keep it fresh for longer by preventing water loss. You can ask you produce monger specifically for unwaxed fruit — usually organic and usually special order. Or you can wash and can scrub your fruit vigorously with soap under hot water. If the water is sufficiently hot (out of the tap is usually fine) it will help to melt the wax and clean up your fruit.

    As a final cautionary note, everybody should really be using organic citrus when they do an alcohol extraction. Citrus fruits receive some heavy duty pesticide treatment, and due to the oil content of their peels, the pesticides tend to partition into the peels, making them impossible to remove. And then all that nasty stuff gets extracted when you soak it in booze!

    Hopefully this helps!

  35. [...] recipes available online for making Falernum. I’ve tried the ones posted at AoD, RumDood, Kaiser Penguin, and Cocktail Chronicles. They’re all great recipes, and the instructions provided by their [...]

  36. AllyNo Gravatar says:

    A bit late to the party, but here’s my Falernum no 11. See if you can guess the inspiration ..

    300ml Rum (Havana Club Silver Dry)

    Zest from 2 oranges

    Zest from 2 lemons

    Zest from 5 limes

    (following to be toasted before adding)
    Aprrox 40 cloves

    1 tspn Coriandar seeds

    1 cinammon stick

    about a cap-ful of Absinthe (versinthe)

    Macerate for 3 days, then mix 50:50 with a demerrara syrop (use a nice dark, soft sugar… you’ll see why)

    Couple of drops vanilla essence

    Couple drops of Almond essence.

    Now, for your Corn n Oil, I used a couple Oz Myers and a quarter wedge lime juice, then topped with an ounce of the above falernum. The result? Unbelievably it was like a Cuba Libra. I noticed something cola like in an early batch of Falernum, so modified the recipe for #11 to use the main flavourings for cola. The dark syrup even gives it the right colour!

    Next version, though, I have a craving for soemthing very different : adding Saaasafras root or file powder to the mix for a root beer type taste. I imagine a corn n oil with this, serviced ice, ice cold, would be heavenly.

  37. NickNo Gravatar says:

    Just started mine, per penguin’s recipe. How long does this last in the fridge?

  38. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Nick – It’ll last about 2 weeks for you sir!

  39. NickNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Rick! I just made my first Test Pilot, using Barbancourt 5 and Bacardi. Excellent drink! And excellent blog!

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About

Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

Contact: rick@kaiserpenguin.com