First time I had a Corn ‘n Oil I described it as, “Tastes like sitting on the road side in the Caribbean on the edge of a cliff at a small ramshackle bar, looking at the pantone sea while cars whisk by.” To wit my drinking buddy said, “That is remarkably specific, but pretty much nails it.” Truly love the Corn ‘n Oil cocktail. I suppose it is technically a cocktails, but I some how feel that “cocktail” is too lofty of a description for a Corn ‘n Oil.
Corn ‘n Oil is an Odd Name
The Corn ‘n Oil contains no corn and no oil of any sort. The name is a colloquialism on how it looks. Due to the ingredients and separation of the rum from the remainder it sort of looks like corn syrup with oil floating on top. While not the most appetizing description for a drink, Corn ‘n Oil is amazing. I would put the humble Corn ‘n Oil in the top rum cocktails out there. In the upper echelons of rum based cocktails like an El Presidente, or a Mai Tai.
Corn ‘n Oil is so easy to make, and I enjoy mine with Barbados ingredients, namely Doorleys 12 Year Old Rum. Barbados, because that is where legends trace the origins of the Corn ‘n Oil. The only other ingredients are wonderful rum based liquor from Barbados called Velvet Falernum, Angostura Bitters, and lime juice. So easy to make.
Pull up an old stool at that wonderfully rundown bar on the roadside on our favorite island. Join me for a Corn ‘n Oil while we look out at the impossibly blue Caribbean sea where it meets the blazing blue sky and catch up a bit.
Corn ‘n Oil
Doorly’s 12 Year Old Barbados Rum. John D. Taylors Velvet Falernum. Angostura Bitters. Lime Juice.
Try our other tropical and tiki cocktails;
Corn n' Oil
Join me for a Corn 'n Oil cocktail while we look out at the impossibly blue Caribbean sea and catch up a bit.
- 2 oz Doorly's 12 Year Old Barbados Rum,
- 1/2 oz John D. Taylors Velvet Falernum
- 1/2 oz Lime Juice
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
In an old fashioned glass add Angostura, Lime Juice and Velvet Falernum over 4-5 cubes of ice, or 1 large block.
Stir 3-4 times to mix.
Add rum to the top.
Garnish with a lime wedge.
The Gods of Tiki
Here is where I need to apologize. Real Tiki drinks are not simple, they are not the “life hack” internet easy so common today. If you find a post that maybe says, “5 simple Tiki drinks”, they probably loosely based on the original concept. I am not saying are bad. In all likelihood they are great drinks, just not true to form Tiki cocktails. After making so many traditional Tiki cocktails, I will proclaim making them worth the effort. But make no mistake there is effort.
Rhums, Rums, Rons and What the Heck is Donns Mix?
Many Tiki drinks use 3 and up to 5 different rums. The call is oddly specific, so having all the rums is a real expensive pain. You can sub in other rums, but a black strap rum, sadly is not replaceable with a captain Morgan spiced. Also you will either have to buy or make things like Donns Mix, Orgeat, Allspice Dram, Fassionola, or Pearl Driver Mix. I’m a bit of a purist, but I cheat on this stuff too, so I’ll try to offer recommendations if there a riff or substitution. The difference in Rum, Ron or Rhum is the country of origin. It turns out in the rum world the flavor of a rum has almost nothing to do with the color, but nearly everything to do with where it is produced.
Luckily TIKI and tropical drinks are strong and the flavor profile is very forgiving, if you don’t have an ingredient and substitute, usually you will be okay. A substitute will usually taste great, and it will still suggest the flavor of the original. I riff Tiki drinks nine ways to Sunday, and within the reasonable bounds of the cocktail they are always good, usually fantastic.
Tale of Two Bartenders
This is not my story, but it is well researched. In fact there are several cocktail books that do a fantastic job of explaining the story of Donn Beach (born Ernest Gantt) and Trader Vic (Victor Bergeron Jr.). The basic gist is these two very successful bar owners were also fierce competitors, and exceptional showmen in their own right. Each bar, Don the Beachcomber, and Trader Vic’s are iconic and legendary bars that created the Tiki culture. While they shared a style, they did not share recipes. Quite the opposite. Unlike today where a recipe is plastered all over the internet, (guilty as charged here) their recipes were fiercely guarded. But guarding a recipe can only take you so far.
In addition they had secret ingredients in their drinks. Little mixes and concoctions that had special names, and ingredients only a trusted few knew. These ingredients are not complex, but important. I will share how to make many, but some you may want to buy.
Why bother with these shenanigans? In the 1950’s a bartender with the knowledge to make their wildly popular yet proprietary drinks could make a lot of money elsewhere. Sadly these recipes were lost until a research author Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry spent years meticulously uncovering them. Only recently have all these ingredients been known.
This level of secrecy has its benefits, but it has its downsides too. As the actual ingredients were a secret, bartenders all over the world just made their version of the cocktails with the same name and passed them off as the real thing. Think about unless you have been to the actual bars, how would you really know.
Navy Grog, Mai Tai, & the Zombie
The most popular Tiki drink is probably the Mai Tai. Until I started making my own I thought a Mai Tai was just a rum punch. Basically, fruit juice and strong rum. It is also so much more. Once I had a real Mai Tai, I was hooked, the other big drinks were the Navy Grog and the Zombie. A zombie is my absolute favorite Tiki drink, if you were wondering. These three are the trinity of Tiki. There are many more but this is the holy three. You will find these secret elixirs from the past are amazingly delicious.