The Corn ’n’ Oil is a classic cocktail from the Caribbean that contains neither corn nor oil. But it does contain blackstrap rum, a darkly colored rum that looks a bit like oil as it floats atop the other lighter colored ingredients, hence the name.
The drink’s history is murky, but most reports trace its origins to Barbados. This tracks, considering the cocktail contains falernum, and the most prolific falernum brand belongs to John D. Taylor, a company that also hails from the island nation. This falernum is sweet, spicy and nutty, lending flavor and texture to many Tiki drinks. It plays the same role in the Corn ’n’ Oil, where its almond notes complement the rich rum and tart lime.
Most Corn ’n’ Oil recipes call for blackstrap rum (or black rum), a controversial style that is characterized more by its inky black color than by any actual regulations or rules. The category generally features young distillates that get their hue from caramel coloring, not lengthy barrel aging. But those rums can be intensely flavorful and fun to work with.
If you want a molasses-heavy drink full of rich sweetness, blackstrap rum is a fine choice. However, if you want to lighten the cocktail, you can replace the blackstrap rum with an aged rum, ideally one from Barbados. In this case, many bartenders dial back the lime juice or remove it entirely, allowing the Bajan rum and falernum to shine, rounded by a touch of complexity and structure provided by the aromatic bitters.
Whichever rum you choose, the cocktail is simple to construct. It doesn’t require any special equipment or tools, so you can go from not drinking a Corn ’n’ Oil to drinking a Corn ’n’ Oil in just a couple minutes.
- 2 ounces blackstrap rum (or aged Barbados rum)
- 1/2 ounce falernum
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: lime wedge
Fill a rocks glass with ice.
Add the rum, falernum, lime juice and bitters and stir to combine. (Alternatively, you can add the rum last by slowly pouring it over the back of a bar spoon so that it floats on top of the drink.)
Garnish with a lime wedge.