How to Make a Corn N’ Oil, the Rum Old Fashioned’s More Interesting Cousin

How to Make a Corn N’ Oil, the Rum Old Fashioned’s More Interesting Cousin
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Apologies to the rum Old Fashioneds out there.

There's just something so goddamn boring about rum Old Fashioneds.

Although it is not always true, sometimes it is better to make blanket statements just to irritate rum enthusiasts, who tend to be very vocal, but mostly it is true, in my opinion. While a touch of bitters and a kiss of sugar brings out the best in a bourbon or rye whiskey, most rum lacks that oaky punch or grainy finish that makes the Old Fashioned template stand out. Adding more sweetness and spice does nothing more than add sugar to ice cream, as aged rum nearly always has sweetness and spice right where you expect them.

This can, however, be overcome. You could use a rum that's unusually old, which will give the oaked complexity you want, or a rum that's unique, such as those from Jamaica or the French Caribbean. The Corn N' Oil can also be made the same way as it is in Barbados.

It contains rum, lime/clove/almond liqueur Falernum, bitters, and lime juice, but possibly not. This is a Barbados classic that dates back at least 100 years. The name is as bad as it gets when it comes to cocktail names, “Corn N’ Oil” sounds like an Iowa gas station, but the best explanation I have read - without evidence - is that the name is derived from Deuteronomy 11:14 in the Bible.

As interesting as Corn N’ Oil is, it has no definitive explanation of how it is made or even what it is, despite the fact that it is definitely from Barbados. A few recipes call for one ounce of lime juice, essentially a Daiquiri, while others call for just a squeeze, like the Ti’ Punch.

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Old Fashioned is best served on a large piece of ice, while Mai Tais are served with crushed ice. A significant number of people, if not most, insist on a blackstrap rum, claiming that the blackness is caused by the "oil" of Corn N' Oil, whereas others point out that Barbados does not typically produce blackstrap rum, and to quote no less than Barbadian master distiller and legendary rum legend Richard Seale, “blackstrap rum does not exist.”

Some people don't like all this ambiguity, but I don't. If there's no dogma, there's a chance to find out what this drink should be. When it comes to lime juice, I leave most of it out, leave the Daiquiring to the Daiquiris, but I still add a little, just enough to give the drink a touch of acidity and spice. With this version, the focus is more on the stirred, boozy realm. In other words, a rum Old Fashioned that's not numbingly, crushingly, interminably dull.

Corn N’ Oil

  • 2 oz. aged rum
  • 0.25 oz. – 0.5 oz. Falernum, to taste
  • 0.125 oz. – 0.25 oz. lime juice
  • 1 dash bitters

A lime peel or lime wedge can be added as a garnish to the Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir 10 to 15 seconds to chill.

Notes on Ingredients

Courtesy of Gregoire Machavoine

Most recipes recommend Cruzan "Blackstrap" rum from St. Croix, which is two-year-old rum that has been darkened with caramel coloring, and sweetened and flavored with flavoring additives to mimic the richness of molasses. Despite the fact that it's too much to use a full 2 ounces, it certainly works well in this drink, sweet and dark and intense. The "oil slick" black rum float is aggressively non-traditional, and Barbadians tend to shake their heads at the idea.

As this is such a Bajan drink, I prefer using rums aged at the amazing Foursquare Distillery, such as Mount Gay Eclipse. In addition to its depth, it is also mild and friendly. If I feel like breaking the rules a little, adding about one ounce of the big, funky Smith and Cross from Jamaica adds some much-needed character.

A Barbadian's humorless attitude toward Falernum, which is believed to be rum-based liqueur with lime, sugar, and optional spices, originating on Barbados, is unmatched. According to them, the facts are in their favor, and when it comes to brands, there is no doubt that John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum is authentic, based on all the requisites.

In spite of that, there are other falernii, or falernum imitations, if you wish, like Brovo, which is boozy, and Fees, which are non-alcoholic, and Fly the Flag of Falernum in spite of their differences in taste. The John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum, in the Corn N’ Oil, still tastes better in my opinion, its lighter spice profile not weighing down a drink already loaded with bitters. You can find all the information you need about falernum here if you have 71 minutes to kill.

A quarter ounce or less of lime is fine with me. If you can be bothered to muddle your lime wedge in the bottom of the glass, you will benefit greatly from the lime oil contained in the peels. However, if that is too difficult to do, don't worry, it is still worth drinking.

It depends on the quality of the rum, but a good dash of Angostura Bitters will work.

It tastes good regardless of how you chill it, but I like it chilled a lot. Consequently, Corn N’ Oil chills slower, which means you’ll taste a little weird when you take your first sip when it’s not chilled and diluted, since your palate is not used to drinking Old Fashioneds with mild acidity. As the ice melts, the drink settles into itself, and everything begins to make sense.

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