Are you familiar with falermum? This obscure, rum-based syrup with lime and spices—typically almond or ginger—originated in Barbados. It can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic when served without rum. Records pinpoint its popularity in America circa the ’30s, but the history gets fuzzy—even among well-read mixologists.
An 1896 newspaper article includes a basic recipe for the Caribbean syrup, which calls for three pints Jamaican rum, one pint of lemon or lime juice, two pints sugar syrup and four pints of water. (Or, the article says, as they say in the West Indies, “one pint of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of the weak.”)
Tropical mixers like falernum gained popularity with Donn Beach’s invention of the tiki bar in 1931. In 1933, Beach claimed to have invented the infamous Mai Tai which included the Barbadian mixture.
But by the 1970s, the thatched roof aesthetic—along with falernum cocktails—experienced a decline. Maybe the current cocktail culture will mean a comeback for the exotic elixir.
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