Falernum (pronounced fah-learn-um) is a sweet syrup used in Caribbean and tropical drinks. It contains flavors of almond, ginger and/or cloves, and lime, and sometimes vanilla or allspice. It is used in cocktails in a manner similar to orgeat syrup or drunk on the rocks. The syrup form can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. The consistency is thick, the color can be white to light amber, and it may be clear or translucent.
Some reports have the origination of falernum dated back to the 18th century.
In his travel account All the Year Round, Charles Dickens wrote of falernum in 1892, describing it as "a curious liqueur composed from rum and lime-juice."
The earliest known reference in bar manuals seems to be the 1930s. One producer (see below) claims his recipe to date to 1890, winning awards as early as 1923. Famous drinks using falernum include:
Fee Brothers produces a nonalcoholic version, and John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum is an alcoholic version available in the United States. The Bitter Truth released their Golden Falernum in 2011, available in Europe, USA and in Asia.
^Carrington, Sean; Fraser, Henry (2003). "Falernum". A~Z of Barbados Heritage. Macmillan Caribbean. p. 74. ISBN0-333-92068-6. A liqueur made basically from rum, lime and sugar. The origin of the name is something of a mystery. The authoritative Grossman's Guide states falernum was invented in Barbados over 200 years ago and was named after Falernum wine, which was much prized by the Romans. There is a joke making the rounds which purports to explain how falernum got its name. In one version, the tourist, after tasting the drink, ask the old man how he made this delicious liqueur. After a few moments hesitation the old Barbadian replies 'you have fuh learn um' (you have to learn it). For those interested in making their own, the following is reproduced from Mrs. H Graham Yearwoods's (1911) West Indian and Other Recipes: 'For 30 gallons of falernum: 9 gal. rum, 3 gal. lime juice, 1 gal. milk, 1/2 gal brandy, 56 lbs. sugar, 1/2 oz. bitter almond, 1/4 oz. mace. To fine it, add 1 gal. of milk.' Rum and falernum constitute the drink known as Corn 'n Oil or 'Corning Oil'. The traditional rum cocktail is simply rum and sugar of rum and falernum shaken with ice and a dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitter.