History Of The Corn And Oil.
The Corn and Oil (also known as corn ‘n oil, or Corning oil) is a rum cocktail from Barbados, with the earliest records I can find of it coming from the 1911 book “West Indian and Other Recipes” by Mrs. H Graham Yearwood. Mrs. Yearwood calls the Corning oil traditional Barbados cocktail consisting of either rum, sugar, and Angostura bitters or rum, falernum, and Angostura bitters. She states the actual name of the cocktail is Corning oil, but it is mainly known as the Corn ‘n Oil.
It appears the corn ‘n abbreviation is meant to replace the “corning” and not “corn and” and be more like the abbreviation in “I was walk’n and talk’n to my friends.” and not “I was walking ‘n talking to my friends” For those reading this not fully fluent in English this is a feature in the English language called elision and its when a final sound, often a vowel, is left out of speech to help speak faster. Other languages have it, too, but it is used heavily in English, especially in poetry, to maintain the meter or in literature to convey the local dialect.
Mrs. Yearwood does not give an exact recipe for the corn ‘n oil, just that it’s made of Rum, bitters, and either falernum or sugar. To that point, there most likely isn’t a single recipe. Most regional drinks like Corn’n Oil have countless variations, and every family has its recipe. Many recipes include lime juice, and the addition of lime juice is excellent, but since Mrs. Yearwood did not mention it in her recipe, I will not add it to mine.
Oddly enough, beyond Mrs. Yearwood’s 1911 mention of the cocktail and its recipe, I couldn’t find any other reference to the cocktail till the early 2000s. Trader Vic never mentions it. It’s not even in any published books by Beachbum Berry. Not even Cocktail books from the Caribbean mention it. At least that I could find.
What Does The Corn ‘n Oil Taste Like?
The corn ‘n oil reminds me of a Caribbean Manhattan. It’s got the standard angostura bitters, but instead of whiskey, it’s rum, and instead of sweet vermouth, it’s falernum. There are no definitive proportions to follow, so you can make it more or less sweet depending on your taste. Thinking of it as a Caribbean Manhattan, I choose to make it with the same volumes I would like a Manhattan. There is also no definitive way to mix the corn ‘n oil, so I decided to shake and dirty pour in a way that would be refreshing on a hot tropical day.