Corn & Oil
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
A Traditional Cocktail from 3 ingredients!
I realize that in these times of pandemic related "shelter in place" orders, that some of us are watching our bar supplies dwindle. So, I spent some time thinking about simple Tiki cocktails that don't require fully stocked bars or fresh fruit. My first thought was the Banana Daiquiri which I featured a few months ago. But that was mostly due to the overripe bananas on my kitchen counter. It's definitely a great drink if you're looking to get rid of those black bananas!
But what if you've already gotten rid of those and run out of lemons and (God forbid) limes as well?! I give you the Corn & Oil. This is a traditional drink from Barbados and that being the case, a Barbados rum is recommended. With the drink being 4/5ths rum, I nice, aged, sipping rum is encouraged. I'm fond of the recipe in Martin Cate's Smuggler's Cove book. It's especially relevant here is it omits the lime juice that so many other recipes add to this cocktail. If you know anything about Martin Cate then you know that he is particular about his rums. Using his own rum categorization system (I wasn't kidding - the guy knows his rums) he calls for a blended aged rum of Barbados origins. This designation (along with omitting the lime juice) is another source of controversy within Tikidom's ever present "official recipe for insert drink name here" tale that also applies to the Corn & Oil.
Legend has it that the name Corn & Oil refers to the look of the drink when you have blackstrap rum (which is dark black) floating on top of the light colored falernum and lime juice. This drink does work well with blackstrap rums like the Cruzan Blackstrap or Mount Gay Black Barrel, both of which I reviewed in past posts. Those rums are flavored such that I tend to add the lime juice back in (1/2 oz BTW) whenever I opt for them in a Corn & Oil. What I like about the Smuggler's Cove version is that the use of a blended aged rum allows for a balance with the falernum that I find more appetizing. Despite what the ingredients list implies, done right, the Corn & Oil can be a deceptively neutral drink.
The last source of controversy with the Corn & Oil comes when we put it all together. To get the floating oil you have to pour each ingredient separately into the glass. While I've never seen a recipe call for shaking or spindle mixing, several (including Smuggler's Cove) call for stirring the drink once in the glass. This is a bit odd to me as that keeps the layer of "oil" from sitting on top of the "Corn". Then again, if I wanted my first sip to be straight rum I'd just have straight rum. So, who knows?
Last but not least, we have a disagreement on ice. While all call for ice, the type in question is frequently debated. The sides are 1) large cubes like you would typically put in a cocktail that is mostly a single liquor in order to reduce melting so that your drink does not end up watered down, and 2) crushed ice 'cause it's a Tiki drink from Barbados and that's the way they do/did it in Barbados. I don't really have a dog in this hunt so I'm not offended either way. Currently, I'm sticking with Martin Cate who is firmly on the Team Crushed. However, it's early Spring and by late Summer I might be tempted to move to Team Cubed if my ice melts faster than I can drink...
Corn & Oil
Source - Martin Cate, Smuggler's Cove
1/2 Ounce John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
2 ounces Barbados Rum*
2-4 dashes of Angostura Bitters*
Add your ingredients to a double Old Fashioned glass and fill with crushed ice. Stir until frost forms on the outside of the glass. No garnish.*
*Bamboo Sam's customizations - for the rum I'm using Plantation's 5 year Barbados. I tend to go heavy on the bitters as I use a small 4 oz bottle as opposed to the 16 oz bottles used in most bars. A dash from a large bottle is considerably more than from a small bottle so I try to make up the difference. Lastly, I garnish with a lime wedge. It gives the drinker the option of adding the lime juice in if they feel the need.