Corn & Oil

Corn and Oil


  • 2 ounces of your favorite blackstrap rum (Cruzan does wonders)
  • 1/2 ounce Falernum
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters


  • 1 1/2 ounce Medford Rum
  • 1/2 ounce Blackstrap
  • 1/2 ounce Falernum
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Corn and Oil


Writing about the Corn and Oil has been harder than I expected. When I started taking notes I had four pages of anecdotes, notes about Falernum and much more. We can’t hit all the points in one blog entry, but read on and we’ll hit the highs.

First off, what a wonderful name for a drink! Few other cocktail names conjure such a visceral reaction. The ‘oil’ in particular raises an eyebrow. (When it’s on the menu at the Green Room in Northampton, MA they make sure to add a caption “It tastes better than it sounds.) In this case, the oil is the luscious slick of dark rum in the glass, working to consume the crushed ice and all available light nearby.

A Corn and Oil is also a perfect introduction to Falernum - the sweet, spicy Caribbean syrup part of many Tiki drinks.


I’ve seen folks take a sip and push it away with that look babies have when you give them a slice of lemon for the first time. “What is this?!? I TRUSTED YOU!” It’s dark, sweet, spicy, and oh so worth your time. I refer to it as “a speed bump cocktail” because I can’t put one back quickly. If you drink it fast you’ll miss out on the flavors designed to be savored.

We have to start with the Falernum, and it’s an introduction with some costs associated with it. It’s a staple of every good bar, but it’s fairly rare to have a bottle at home. The flavor is rather specific, and you almost have to go out of your way to make cocktails with it as the bottle sits on your shelf… staring at you.

This drink might be worth trying at your favorite bar before committing to a bottle at home. I’ve met folks who bought Falernum and wound up giving the bottles away after they sat collecting dust. If you are wiling to buy to a bottle, John Taylor’s Velvet Falernum is widely available and shouldn’t set you back more than $20.

Another reason to try this cocktail at a bar is the glory of homemade Falernum. Most bars pride themselves on making their own, so you can get a sense of the levels of spice and savory you prefer. (Remembering it’s always easy to add more Falernum later rather than take it out after making the drink.)

While the Corn and Oil is a simple drink, there are a number of variations based on ratios and a key omission. Most recipes call for the use of a dark, blackstrap rum like Cruzan, but some folks prefer a lighter rum as the base with a small float of blackstrap as the final ingredient. I absolutely understand the appeal of using lighter rums in the drink to suit your tastes, but something doesn’t feel quite right about a Corn and Oil that’s light on the tongue. It feels strangely like cheating, although I can’t imagine why. I gather it’s the New England Puritan in me that appreciates pleasure after some suffering or pain.

The other big question is the omission of lime juice. I understand some Falernum recipes are acidic and perhaps with a few wedges of lime squeezed over a drink you get a similar result, but I can’t imagine a Corn and Oil without lime juice. I’ve made a few of these drinks and they don’t compare to those with the extra sourness and acidity lime juice adds. I’m not the sort who can drink dark rum without feeling a bit like my taste buds are about to be pulled below the surface. The bite of lime is a lifejacket, letting them make it to the surface and sup deep draughts of fresh air and find their balance… before the next gleeful dive below. If you’ve got homemade Falernum in your drink, you’ll probably have far more spice and clove than some from a bottle. The variations in a fresh mix will help you decide if you want to vary the rum a bit.

Lastly, a Corn and Oil is another drink that benefits as the ice melts and the profile lightens a touch. The melting ice helps disperse the flavors, giving later sips a different profile.


If you’re not crazy about dark rum you can make a lovely variation with Grand Ten’s Medford Rum. Medford Rum is made to an old New England recipe with blackstrap molasses so it retains the sweeter, earthy flavors you get from a Cruzan but in a much, much lighter form. We like using the 1 and 1/2 ounces of Medford Rum as the base and use the last half-ounce of Cruzan rum as a float to give it a true oil slick look.


Sweet: Oh yes
Sour: Slightly
Salt: Nope
Bitter: Depending on the Falernum
Umami: Yes, especially on the rum and Falernum choices.


If it’s a story it’s Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold Bug” - a hint of tropical spice and dark mystery.


Another reason to love a Corn and Oil is how easy it is to build in a glass, no shaker needed. Fill a glass with crushed ice, pour the ingredients, stir, top with a slice of lime, a few dashes of bitters, and you’re done.


It’s worth noting you want crushed ice for this. A handful of cubes won't cut it. You want small bits of ice moving, melting, and giving the drink a slushy texture so you can savor it slowly, like the good lord intended.

Boon & Caro Sheridan

Boon is self-cleaning, features a safety lock, lower storage drawers, and warming controls. Caro boasts a sleek, refined look that suits any decor. All words by Boon, all photos by Caro

Holyoke, MA