What is Velvet Falernum?

Falernum is an indigenous Barbados alcohol version that should be part of your tiki bar. It is a term used to describe a spiced-citrusy-sweet syrup best for flavoring cocktails in bars and resorts. And, what is velvet falernum? It is a low-proof rum with botanical flavors and other spices to enhance drinks. 

Velvet Falernum is mostly used as a flavor, although you can add tonic water or squeeze the lime to make a refreshing drink. As a rum-based liqueur, its sweet spice and almond character add weight and texture to punches. Velvet is well-known for cocktails, and the most common is Corn and Oil.  

velvet falernum

Falernum History

The sweet syrup can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic and is common in tropical drinks like Zombies and swizzles. It was first created by John D Taylor of Barbados in the 1890s. The liqueur is a sugar cane combination of lime, almond, and cloves. It can also be non-alcoholic syrup.

Falernum is named after the Roman wine Falernian, the ancient Romanian, falernum is Latin. As the most favored and expensive wine in Rome, it has nothing in common with today’s falernum apart from the golden tint.

Three Velvet Falernum Cocktails

It is one of those cocktail ingredients that sound strange but are not. It is a Caribbean cocktail ingredient that is easy to work with. Mostly it comes as a rum liqueur or sugar syrup spiced with cloves, lime, ginger, and almond.

The most popular is the John D Taylor velvet falernum, a low-proof liqueur with all mentioned flavors. Since it is Barbadian, it is mostly paired with rum, but it is quite versatile. Here are the most common falernum refreshing cocktails:

1. Falernum and Ginger

When paired with ginger beer, falernum brings out its warm fragrance spice. It is a perfect day drink because of its low alcohol volume. You need 4 ounces of ginger beer and ice, then add 1½ ounces of falernum then garnish with lemon.

2. Falernum Manhattan

Cocktails made from bitter or tough drinks need sweetening, a role that falernum takes on so well. The sugarcane base makes it an ideal sweetening agent in a manhattan twist. When using Rendezvous Rye, is a perfect match with falernum because both are spiced and then thrown in Angostura’s dash.

velvet falernum

Add two ounces of rye to a mixing glass with ice, an ounce of falernum, and a dash of Angostura bitters to balance then strain the cocktail. You can garnish with a lime peel and spritz citrus oils on top to give it a good twist.

3. Corn and Oil Redux

Corn and oil are the most popular velvet falernum made from dark molasses. Most falernum drinks turn out sweet and light in alcohol. Corn and oil have a more rum ratio than dry añejo rum, in this case, Brugal XV. add falernum, Angostura, and a big hit of lime juice to get a sophisticated cocktail well spiced and refreshing.

Combine 2 ounces of dark rum in a cocktail shaker with ice, 1 ounce of Velvet falernum, lime juice ¾ ounce, and Angostura bitters. Shake the mix, then strain it on fresh ice rocks, then garnish with a lemon wedge.

Tips on Home-made Falernum

A homemade version of falernum is customized to your specific needs. You can decide to change the nase rum, use more or less clove, and the same for ginger. The downside is that it will take you a few days to prepare and only last for a month when refrigerated or at room temperature. Also, each time you make it, it might taste different, and you need to invest in ingredients.

  • You can toast almonds in the oven or an open pan. Place them on a baking sheet then put them in the oven, but it will take some time. Another easy way out is to toast them on a frying pan because it is quick. If time is not of the essence to you, you can go ahead and use your oven. 
  • When doing these projects at home, it is good to invest in a nut bag. The big rolls of cheesecloth may run out on you, but the washable nut bag comes in handy. You can wash it and continue to make something different immediately. Also, it catches all pieces of whatever you strain. 
velvet falernum


Velvet falernum is a rum-based liqueur with sugar and supporting flavorings, making it ideal for cocktails. Its creamy texture from almonds compliments aged rums in original cocktails. Make a quick dessert by splashing falernum on some berries and enjoy its sweet flavors. You can also add it to coffee or iced tea to get that exotic refreshing drink. 

The cocktail spice lasts for six months, and you should mix it well, then pour it into a sterile bottle, and don’t forget to shake it now and then and before each use. 

READ MORE: Does Coconut Oil Go Bad?

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