The Swizzle’s Secret: Bermuda Falernum

Monday Mantra

Sun, Sand, and Swizzles…Sun, Sand, and Swizzles…Sun, Sand, and Swizzles

The Swizzle’s Secret

If it doesn’t have Bermuda falernum — and a Bermuda bar — it’s just not right.

Ahhh… Bermuda. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some far-flung and exotic places in my life but there’s something about this little horseshoe-shaped island that, even after 30 years of regular visits, continues to allure me.

Maybe it’s the pink sugar-sand beaches, the friendly people, the riotous clusters of wildflowers that border the lanes, or the glorious sunshine. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the only place I’ve ever been where a businessman — a straight businessman — can go to the office dressed in pink shorts, a lime green-and-fuschia plaid jacket, a pink necktie, and knee socks and not scare the heck out of any homophobic coworkers. Or maybe it’s the fact that the Bermuda rum swizzle is my favorite libation.

I’m a swizzle snob. Don’t tell me that that weak and watery fruit juice concoction that you order at your local bar is a swizzle. Puleeeeez. Like a fashionista appalled at the very thought of a pair of knock-off Jimmy Choos, when it comes to rum swizzles, I’m almost annoyingly devoted to authenticity. As much as the Black Seal rums, Bermuda itself is a key ingredient to the best swizzles. The smart drinkers head to the Swizzle Inn (not on a moped, I must caution), either the original location in Bailey’s Bay or the newer South Shore location in Warwick, as soon as their ship docks in Bermuda.

RELATED: Like a Local: Bermuda 

As a self-proclaimed expert on the rum swizzle, I often find myself compelled to share my wisdom with swizzle-loving shipmates. Ironically, I tell them, it is the Bermuda falernum that is key to duplicating the taste of the drink they enjoyed by the pitcherful at the Swizzle Inn. While recipes may state that grenadine or sugar syrup may be substituted for this ginger-and-almond-infused syrup that’s unavailable outside Bermuda (and, believe me, I’ve looked), I lecture like an impassioned preacher that without it, their swizzle will lack the sizzle they’re after when they mix up a batch in their kitchen in Peoria.

And still, no one listens. Over and over, my shipmates pick up a bottle of Black Seal at the local liquor store and ignore the $12 bottle of falernum that’s so important to the reason they purchased the rum. They’ll go home, mix the rum with the juices and substitute grenadine for the falernum. The end result will be fruity, rum-flavored, and violently red.

But it won’t be a swizzle.

Bermuda Rum Swizzle

  • 4 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • 4 oz. Gosling’s Gold Rum
  • Juice of 2 fresh limes (or 1 oz. bottled lime juice)
  • 5 oz. pineapple juice
  • 5 oz. orange juice
  • 2 oz. Bermuda falernum
  • 6 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir or shake vigorously until a frothing head appears. Strain into sour glasses.

— Judi Cuervo


Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.