On the Tiki Trail – Prepping for Tiki Oasis with DIY Falernum

First off, Tiki oasis is coming up (August 14-17).  For those of you who have never been, here is a quick primer: Tiki Oasis is a huge tiki festival in San Diego, California.  If you are into tiki or Rockabilly or Fifties pop culture or if you aren’t into any of that but enjoy Hawaiian shirts and booze then Tiki Oasis is a really good time.  There is literally something for everyone to enjoy in this Polynesian Pop extravaganza of art, shopping, car shows, symposiums, dancing (hula and burlesque) and partying all weekend.

I’ve been getting ready for Tiki Oasis for the last few weeks.  For many, this might mean getting a new outfit or tuning up your Ukulele, but for me, it means that today I am working on my falernum recipe.   Although it’s typical of me to spend this time sharpening my tiki technique, this year is a little different – this year I am delivering a symposium on The Bitter Side of Tiki at Tiki Oasis.  Sure, that means talking and being engaging and funny for a room full of people for an hour and a half, but that is the easy part.  The hard part is the cocktails.   I have attended many booze-filled seminars and have forgotten most of them.  Most people hit up these seminars to be entertained, to learn a little something, and to drink.  Although I like to be memorable on all accounts, drinks are my craft and my trade, so I need something tiki-ceptional. Today I am working on recipes, and that recipe is Falernum.

Falernum is a sort of syrup or liquor that is a necessary component to many tiki drinks.  It is local to Barbados and, in my research, I get the impression that every Bajan granny has her own secret recipe.  I scoured the web for good Falernum recipes and, as far as I can tell, the most common base flavors are clove, ginger and lime, infused into rum and sweetened with sugar syrup.

Luckily, many of my favorite cocktail writers have already done most of the legwork.  Paul Clark seems to have a recipe that is the inspiration and starting point for many of the recipes you will find.  Matt Robold’s version is one I like a lot.  Also there is a five minute version by Kaiser Penguin that worked really well for me. I knew I wanted a Falernum recipe that is pretty simple and is true to the base flavors of ginger, lime and clove.  After tasting a few different versions, my bitters-making experience made me think that dried lemongrass would add a really nice note.  I tried the five minute version with approximately 3 grams of dried lemongrass, which turned out to be a great combination. If you’re trying this at home, remember that dried lemongrass and fresh taste very different in infusions.  For the recipes, check out the links below.

Kaiser Penguin’s 5 Minute Falernum

Paul Clarkes  Falernum #9

Rum Dood’s Falernum #2

Art of Drink – Everything Falernum


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