The first time I tasted Falernum (I'd bought a bottle to experiment with some Tiki drinks, in which it's a sometimes ingredient), I figured that it was what the Captain Morgan people were really after--except that it was more like a liqueur than a plain old strong spirit. It's sweet. Wikipedia says there are non-alcoholic versions of it, but I've never seen one.
It improves many, many drinks, though, especially ones made with rum. And so I will celebrate this lovely spring day (after many days of soaking rain) with a Mai Tai, a very good example of a drink that you can make without Falernum, but is MUCH better with a bit thrown in.
There's a lot of back and forth over what is a true, historic, Don The Beachcomber kinda Mai Tai. I'm not Tiki enough to worry about that sort of thing, but here's the ICB recipe for the drink, which does include the golden potion in question:
Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain
1 oz light rum (3 cl, 1/4 gills)
1 oz dark rum (3 cl, 1/4 gills)
1 1/2 oz fresh lime juice (4.5 cl, 3/8 gills)
1/2 oz orange curacao (1.5 cl, 1/8 gills)
1/4 oz grenadine (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)
1/2 oz orgeat syrup (1.5 cl, 1/8 gills)
1/4 oz falernum (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)
A Mai Tai is properly served in a tall glass filled with crushed ice, and sipped through a straw, I think. I like a mint leaf garnish. If you're making a bunch of these, taste before you shake for lime juice/sweet balance. You shouldn't have something as tart as--say--an Aviation--but you should be aware of the lime. And as I have found out lately, the better the curacao you use, the better the drink will be. Shop around and spend a few bucks. The stuff goes a long way.
In other news, I've finally got the new ROBYN HITCHCOCK! And so Cocktails with Chris goes forth live on the intertubes at www.randoradio.com today at 4 PM! We're on the air a day early to kick off the Easter weekend, and to allow a certain otherwise impossibly groovy radio host to sing in her husband's choir tomorrow...