Maybe it’s the warmth of the kitchen or just avoiding the cold outside, but whatever the reason, fall is the season where we like to spend time in the kitchen. When we think of fall, we think of the smell of fresh baked pies and turkey with stuffing. So if our food gets that sort of treatment, why shouldn’t our bar? This fall, let’s take to the kitchen to make our own falernum.
Falernum beginnings are a bit of a blur, but generally speaking, it’s a sweetened lime and spice concoction used largely (but not exclusively) in tiki cocktails. It comes in the form of both syrup and liqueur (which is most common) with the key ingredients always made up of lime zest, cloves and sugar, combined with ginger and almonds or almond extract. The most common and perhaps only liqueur brand you’ll find (which is certainly The Savory approved) is John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum.
So if we like Taylor’s Velvet Falernum so much, why would we make our own? Making your falernum let you control all of the flavor. With home bartending so prominent right now, why not give yourself the chance to customize your cocktails to your taste? Plus, the DIY falernum recipe is easy to make with inexpensive ingredients. It’s a win-win.
DIY FALERNUM RECIPE (yields about 2 cups)
1/3 cup sliced, raw almonds
30 whole cloves
5-10 star anise
5-10 cinnamon sticks
20 whole allspice berries (dried)
1/2 cup of light rum
1 tbsp grated ginger (fresh)
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and toast the almonds on a cookie sheet until slightly darkened and fragrant, about five minutes. Be careful not to let them burn. Let cool before using.
2 . Place the almonds, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and allspice in a sealable glass jar (ie. Mason jar) and pour in the rum. Shake vigorously and let steep 2 days.
3. Zest all of the limes (always leaving out the white pith). This is the most tedious part of the recipe. Set aside four of the limes for use in the rest of this recipe. Add lime zest to the jar. Also add the ginger. Shake vigorously and let steep for 1 day. After the day, strain through cheesecloth, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.
4. Juice four of the limes and strain the juice through a fine strainer into a sauce pot. Add water and sugar, then bring to a boil on medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved; usually about 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool and combine with your strained rum infusion. Let your falernum rest for an additional 12 hours before use.