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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 02/25/2011

Cocktails That Complete Me: Corn 'n' Oil

By Jason Wilson
corn 'n' oil_opt.jpg Corn 'n' Oil, the float. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

This week marks the 16th drink in my little Cocktails That Complete Me project. Just one more after this, and I will have finished The List of the 100 must-drink cocktails. I can see the end from here. But I have to say that this week's cocktail, Corn 'n' Oil, is a thick, dark Barbados concoction that sent me in odd directions, calling for two spirits that you don't see often -- Black Strap rum and falernum.

Recipe Included

Falernum is a flavorful spice-and-lime-infused rum that's most famously used in the Swizzle. Even though falernum is made throughout the Caribbean, when I first started writing the Spirits column, you couldn't find it anywhere in the United States. The only way you could get falernum here was to make it yourself. Then around 2008, the Barbadian brand, John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum, came on the market, which made life easier for Swizzle lovers. But I've never seen this much falernum used in a single drink.

Black Strap rum is a deep, molasseslike rum full of rich, burnt brown-sugar flavors -- the most widely available brand is from Cruzan. As with the falernum, I've only ever seen Black Strap rum used in small amounts, usually in tiki drinks, so using such a generous pour in the Corn 'n' Oil was strange.

corn 'n' oil 2_opt.jpg Corn 'n' Oil, the finish. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Most Corn 'n' Oil recipes call for about three parts Black Strap rum to one part falernum, with a dash of bitters. I tried a number of these formulas, and what I got was very rich and syrupy -- too rich and syrupy for my blood. The color was of coffee or, yes, Texas crude. So, sure, I get the Oil part of the name...but what about the Corn?

Then, I was looking at the back of the bottle of John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum and saw the company's recipe for Corn 'n' Oil. It was exactly the opposite ratio of all the other recipes I'd been making -- three parts falernum to one part Black Strap rum. Sure, sure, John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum is trying to sell more falernum...but the company is based in Barbados, and so I made that recipe.

When I added a smaller amount of Black Strap rum on top of the falernum, the heavier, more viscous "Oil" rested on top of the lighter, dare we say, white-corn-colored" falernum. To this, one adds a couple dashes of bitters. It's a cool-looking preparation, though you definitely want to stir it with a straw before drinking.

After sipping on the more falernum-heavy Corn 'n' Oil, I'm convinced this is the drink as it was meant to be sipped on a hot afternoon in Bridgetown. At if it's not...well, this is the way I like it. And after all, this whole project is called Cocktails That Complete ME.

Wilson is the author of "Boozehound." He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter.

Corn 'n' Oil
1 serving

This classic Barbados recipe is found in several different versions, but because falernum is a Barbadian specialty, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson trusts the formula on the back of John D Taylor's Velvet Falernum bottle. If possible, use the rich, molasses-heavy Cruzan Black Strap Rum. Before stirring, the thick, dark rum will float atop the falernum, like oil. Adapted from John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum.

1 1/2 ounces falernum, preferably John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
1/2 ounce dark rum, preferably Cruzan Black Strap Rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 quarter slice of lime, cut lengthwise in half, for garnish

Fill a highball or rocks glass with ice. Pour in the falernum, then the dark rum, which will float on top. Add the dashes of Angostura bitters, then squeeze the lime slices and drop into the drink. Before serving, stir well and add more ice if needed.

By Jason Wilson  | February 25, 2011; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Spirits  | Tags:  Cocktails That Complete Me, Jason Wilson  
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