The La Poloka cocktail

I came up with this recipe yesterday while hanging out with one of my best friends, Tim Mayer. Tim introduced me a while back to Convento, a brand of artesian grogue from Cape Verde. (Tim is a well-known recording artist in Cape Verde. In addition to knowing a lot about Cape Verdean music, he is a big fan of their grogue, which is pretty similar to rhum agricole). I used Convento in this recipe to balance out some of the smokiness of the La Favorite agricole.

1.5 oz La Favorite amber
1.0 oz homemade falernum* (see note below)
0.5 oz LH 80
0.5 oz fresh lemon
0.5 oz fresh grenadine
0.5 oz cinnamon
.25 oz Cabo Verde Convento (artesian grogue)

Shake with rocks and double strain over crushed ice into a rum barrel! Squeeze a few drops of fresh lime into the top of the drink, and float the lime shell in the drink.

Here’s what Tim has to say about the recipe:

Man, that La Poloka is one of the finest new drinks I have tried in a very long time! The interaction of that La Favorite and Convento grogue with that home-brew falernum and cinnamon syrup is a thing of exquisite subtlety and nuanced interplay of flavors evoking memories of cane fields of Cape Verde!

**Making your own Falernum

There are many recipes available online for making Falernum. I’ve tried the ones posted at AoD, RumDood, Kaiser Penguin, and Cocktail Chronicles. They’re all great recipes, and the instructions provided by their authors are equally awesome. I mean, the whole Falernum thing at one point basically took over all the blogs I just named plus a bunch of peoples’ lives. I am nowhere near being an expert on Falernum!! (And definitely not like the guy who writes for Cocktails Old Fashioned).

The recipe I used for the falernum used in La Poloka, however, came from yet another source: Matt “Kuku Ahu” Thatcher whom I know from the tiki scene. Matt’s recipe is simple enough to do on-the-spot (you don’t need to let things sit overnight or gather a zillion ingredients). First make clove rum. Use 1/8 cup whole cloves to a fifth of white rum (your choice … but Cruzan white is good enough and hella cheap). Steep the cloves in the rum while the rum heats on the stove. Be careful to keep the heat low enough so that the fumes don’t get ignited by the fire (if you’re on a gas stove). Let that cool. Next, make lime sour (simple syrup + fresh lime juice in equal parts. You can use the 1 lb.-1 cup rule for your syrup). In an empty bottle, mix equal parts of your clove rum and lime sour. Shake it up. Feel free to add more of either ingredient until you feel the lime and clove flavors speaking equally. Next, add a few drops of high-grade almond extract. Shake the bottle again. Taste. Repeat…

You’ll recognize that this falernum recipe is extremely different from the ones posted by Rick at Kaiser Penguin, Cocktail Chronicles, etc., in that it calls for fresh lime juice. In fact, the other recipes specifically call for lime zest and not juice because the lime juice will cause the falernum to mold. This is totally true. On the other hand, Matt’s recipe is a quick one that you can use whenever—no planning in advance needed. Matt suggests storing the clove rum for a later date (either as its own liqueur or for future falernum-making). The falernum will keep for a week or so… though actually, I’ve found it lasts me little over one drinking session! Hahaha.

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