The Latest Imbibe Is Here!

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My friend Paul Clarke just published a fantastic article about bartenders making their own liqueurs in the latest Imbibe magazine, and El Vaquero has the honor of representing falernum.

We’ve been making a variation of Paul’s falernum recipe for a few months now, to great reviews. When you’ve wrapped up reading his article in Imbibe, be sure to check out his backstory on the experience of writing the article. Great insight.

With all due respect to Paul, I’ve taken his recipe and made a few modifications that I’d like to present here. I think that soaking the cloves in the rum for a few days prior to adding the lime zest and ginger adds a wonderful depth.

I copied most of this over from Paul, many apologies!

8 ounces white rum
40 whole cloves

Soak together for 48 hours. Add:

Zest of 9 limes
1.5 oz julienned fresh ginger

Combine these ingredients in a jar and seal, letting the mixture soak for 24 hours. Then, strain through moistened cheesecloth, squeezing the solids to extract the last, flavorful bits of liquid.


.25 tsp almond extract
14 oz simple syrup
4.5 oz fresh, strained lime juice

This liqueur has been a great addition to the bar, in everything from Corn and Oils to Queen’s Park Swizzles. But I’ve been enjoying playing with beer cocktails lately, so I came up with this:

St. Michael’s Punch

I think the Japanese beer is a fantastic component to this drink.

1 oz falernum
1 oz lemon juice
2 oz sparkling mineral water
4 oz Kirin Ichiban lager

Combine ingredients and pour over ice. Garnish with a thick slice of lemon peel studded with clove.

Also in the latest issue is Kevin Ludwig’s wonderful review of channel knives. At Vaquero we use the Messermeister, but I’ve had some memorable times with the Victoronix.

Update: I forgot to mention that Camper English also has a nice piece.

Update: About liquor tastings in this issue as well.

5 Replies to “The Latest Imbibe Is Here!”

  • Jeffrey says:


    I’ll seek legal counsel immediately, but wait, it’s midnight. Never mind!

    Thanks for the insight, to be honest, the only falernums (falerni?) I’ve tried are the John D. Taylor’s and your recipe, and after reading your comment I now understand the difference between the two camps.

    I love the idea of reheating the juice to make a simple syrup instead of the added water. It’s exactly what I’ve been doing to make tonic water a la Kevin Ludwig, and it works much better.

    Next up on my list, homemade creme de cassis! Not a rare ingredient, but how many brands are really that available to me in Oregon?


  • Jeffrey says:


  • siobhan says:

    yum. I love that you put beer and falernum together.

  • Paul says:

    Wait — you changed my recipe? YOU BASTARD! I’LL SUE!!!

    Eh, but I’m too lazy.

    Actually, as the good Dr. Cocktail pointed out about a year ago, falernum can fall into two camps: those that are a bit more in the spicy, clovey direction, such as Velvet Falernum, and that seem to be a more typical Barbados version; and the more citrusy types that were used in tiki drinks in the US, originally from Sazerac-Stansfield, now discontinued but an adaptation of this type is available commercially from Fee Brothers.

    When making my falernum, I assessed my needs — considering that at the time I was rummaging through Jeff Berry’s recipes, I decided to pursue making a version of the second, more citrusy style that would be useful in tiki drinks. Hence, the large amount of lime juice in my falernum, and the limited amount of cloves.

    Upping the cloves, as you do, is a great idea — I might also suggest you decrease the lime as an experiment, to see how that affects your spice / sour profile. You can also do as Jamie Boudreau does, and after you strain your solids from the rum, simmer them in water and strain again, then use that “tea” to make your simple syrup. (Jamie also uses no lime juice in his falernum — just the infused liquids and sugar.) I tried it and thought it took the falernum too much away from the lighter, fruitier version I was pursuing, but it was still pretty damn good. If you’re looking to use it in a more varied type of drinks, this might be a good route.

    (If you look at the recipe in Imbibe, you might also notice it’s different from the one on my website, in that I’ve added toasted slivered almonds to the mix, for a little more authentic almond flavor.)

  • Great recipes! And, that St. Michael’s Punch is really original. I can’t wait to try it out!

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