I've been working my way through Jeff Berry's excellent cocktail recipe books for a number of years and have been hitting a couple of road blocks when it comes to finding ingredients. #1 on my "Most Wanted" list is falernum — a Jamacian sweetener that consists of sugar water, lime juice, rum, cloves, and other spices. It seems to be available in a couple of forms in larger cities on the west coast, but living in Florida, it's impossible to find in our local liquor stores, who seem more interested in selling Budweiser.
The internet is abuzz with falernum controversy: enterprising cocktailians have developed their own formulas and are fermenting them in mason jars, one company is importing what may (or may not) be a holiday spiced version version of the stuff from the islands again, and all the while no one can quite agree on what is the "authentic" taste as none of the interested parties actually tasted the stuff back in the '30s and '40s when it was frequently used in cocktail recipes.
While all of this controversy has been raging, Fee Brothers, maker of cocktail mixers and bitters since 1863, has been steadily producing their non-alcoholic falernum, which Jeff Berry recommends for Don the Beachcomber-style drinks he's championed. If it's good enough for the Beachbum, it's good enough for me, and oddly, the stuff is now being sold on Amazon.com, so it's available to us unwashed masses that don't live in the historical shadows of the rum cocktail revolution.
I placed my order last night and can't wait to compare all three versions of the Zombie in Sippin' Safari!
Buy Fee Brothers Falernum at Amazon.com