Booze to Know (and Where to Find It): Falernum

by Jenny An on Sep 20, 2013 in Liquor
Booze to Know (and Where to Find It): Falernum

Part of our occasional series highlighting hard-to-find or interesting liquors. This week, we're taking a look at falernum.

What Is It?

Best known for its presence in tiki drinks, Falernum is a spiced, citrus-accented syrup. It seems to have first gotten popular in the United States in the 1930s, just shortly after the end of Prohibition (or maybe even before), but its roots lie much earlier. There's even a 1892 New York Times story about the drink's etymology. 

Velvet Falernum is the brand name for an alcoholic version produced in Barbados, which uses a rum base, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants concocting their own (typically non-alcoholic) versions. It's most commonly found in rum-filled drinks (RIP PNKY's infamous Scorpion Bowls) but it has been finding its way as a sweetener in whiskey, gin and even aquavit-based drinks around New York. 

Where Can I Find It?

1) Where the Brooklyn branch of Loreley's used to stand, you'll now find Battery Harris. The Blood Sport ($11) mixes Velvet Falernum with rye, pisco and the Italian liqueur Averna for a stiff drink that means business — nothing like a fruity Mai Tai  (64 Frost St., Brooklyn; 718-384-8902).

2) Death & Co.’s Gypsy Wedding ($14) throws so many ingredients into a glass, it's just as bustling and full of clamoring as a real gypsy wedding. Bombay Dry gin, Krogstad aquavit, honey syrup, grapefruit and lime juice pair with Velvet Falernum and are finished off with a fennel-infused salt rim (433 E. 6th St.; 212-388-0882).

3) Clover Club's Green Swizzle ($12) is a smart take on this icy sip, which was first pioneered by the Rainbow Room. Mixing gin, Velvet Falernum, lime, absinthe, Angostura bitters and a dash of soda, this will chill you out with style (210 Smith St., Brooklyn; 718-855-7939).

4) For a lighter (but no less potent) take on Falernum, Pouring Ribbons Eye to Eye ($14) combines bourbon with a macadamia-nut-infused falerum. Add a few fruity touches (lemon and strawberry) and a dash of bitters (Angostura) and you have a tiki drink fit for a gentleman (225 Ave. B, 2nd Fl; 917-656-6788).

5) Elsa serves up two tipples with Velvet Famernum: the New Partner ($13) — with caraway rye for kick plus honey, mint, apple, lemon and bitters for a mellow kiss — and the S.M. Jenkins Cocktail ($13). A clever play on the Pimm's Cup, the latter combines gin, Pimm's No. 1 (there are other numbers but they're not readily available outside the UK), cucumber, lime, ginger ale and of course Velvet Falernum. (217 E 3rd St., 917-882-7395).

Photos via Flickr/Dominic Lockyer


Tags: Cocktails, Spirits
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