20 best Falernum cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by Dan Malpass

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Falernum is a versatile and flavoursome cocktail sweetener. Spiced (but not hot spiced) falernum is a characterful yet delicate liqueur with a high sugar content but a low alcohol strength (11 to 18% acl./vol.), just enough to act as a preservative. Traditionally an alcoholic liqueur, non-alcoholic syrups labelled "falernum" are also available but are something of a second best.

Falernum always contains lime (oils or juice) and sugar but usually also spices such as clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and often almond so giving it a festive flavour (hence my use of falernum in my Christmas Cosmopolitan and Christmas Margarita). However, falernum is far from a winter's staple and originates from the sunny climes of Barbados where it is mixed with rum. Indeed, a splash of falernum with a well-aged rum is delicious, whatever the time of year or temperature.

Falernum's Caribbean origins and associations with rum led to it becoming a staple ingredient for Trader Vic and Don Beachcomber in the 1930s with many contemporary bartenders also using falernum in tropical-style cocktails. The following 20 cocktails with falernum include tropical cocktails but also spirit-forward and stirred cocktails, the other style of cocktail where falernum shines.

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Brooklyn's Finest
With: cognac, rye whiskey, Cardamaro, falernum liqueur and Angostura bitters.
We say: Manhattan-esque, boozy and delicately spiced.

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Californian Margarita
With: tequila, triple sec, lemon juice, falernum liqueur and saline solution.
We say: a classic Margarita with a few tweaks.

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Chartreuse Swizzle
With: Green Chartreuse, falernum liqueur, pineapple juice and lime juice.
We say: a swizzle for Chartreuse lovers.

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Corn 'n' Oil
With: aged rum, falernum liqueur, Angostura bitters, blackstrap rum.
We say: rum flavoured with the lime and clove flavours of falernum.

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Detroit Athletic Club
With:Irish whiskey, Green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and falernum liqueur.
We say: Irish whiskey with a splash of sweet vermouth, clove rich falernum and a monastic liqueur.

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Difford's Mai Tai
With: aged rum, pineapple rum, orange curacao, lime juice, orgeat, amaretto liqueur, falernum liqueur, white créme de menthe, absinthe.
We say: a classic Daiquiri with a few bells and whistles.

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Green Swizzle
With: white rum, overproof rum, absinthe, falernum liqueur, green créme de menthe, lime juice.
We say: robustly flavoured ingredients brought together harmoniously in a tall, most refreshing swizzle.

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Hemingway Breakfast
With: absinthe, white rum, lime juice, falernum liqueur, marmalade, Angostura bitters.
We say: a bitter orange and clove Daiquiri.

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Jungle Hunt
With: Jagermeister, pineapple rum, falernum liqueur, cinnamon syrup, pineapple juice, lemon juice, orange bitters.
We say: herbal pineapple and spice with hints of Tiki.

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Nuclear Banana Daiquiri
With: overproof rum, Yellow Chartreuse, falernum liqueur, lime juice, banana.
We say: a delicious and indulgent cocktail.

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Nuclear Daiquiri
With: overproof rum, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, falernum liqueur.
We say: a great way to inflict mutually assured destruction.

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Prestige Cocktail
With: aged rum, pineapple juice, dry vermouth, falernum liqueur, lime juice.
We say: aged rum, pineapple and lime with delicate but enlivening clove spice.

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Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Daiquiri
With: golden rum, falernum liqueur, orange curacao, lime juice, sugar syrup.
We say: a full-flavoured, tangy Daiquiri with faint clove spice.

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Rum Old Fashioned
With: aged rum, overproof rum, falernum liqueur, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters.
We say: the flavour of the overproof rum greatly adds to the character of this Old Fashioned.

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Rum Swizzle
With: aged rum, falernum liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters.
We say: dark rich sugar and rum, sweetened and spiced with the clove and cinnamon flavours of the falernum and freshened with citrus.

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Succulent Blood
With: mezcal, blood orange juice, cinnamon syrup, falernum liqueur.
We say: mezcal and blood orange juice with sweet spice added with cinnamon and clove flavours.

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Three Dots and a Dash
With: Rhum Agricole, aged rum, falernum liqueur, allspice dram, lime juice, orange juice, honey syrup and Angostura bitters.
We say: one of the most complex of all classic Tiki drinks

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Three Storms Flip
With: golden rum, falernum liqueur, Islay whisky, orange bitters, salt, pepper, egg.
We say: peat smoky whisky subtly influences this complex and silky-smooth rum flip.

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Well Oiled Mai Tai
With: aged rum, falernum liqueur, orgeat, lime juice, Angostura bitters.
We say: a quality falernum adds complex clove-led flavours to a classic Trader Vic Mai Tai.

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Zombie
With: overproof pot still rum, golden rum, overproof aged rum, falernum liqueur, anise, pineapple juice, lime juice, grapefruit juice, grenadine syrup.
We say: powerful funky rum and delicate cinnamon spice partially tamed by rich fruit and sweetened clove.

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