DRINKS & ARTS: Falernum & Film

 video source:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/alx

If you read my recent posts, you are well aware of my recent award tour in cocktail couture.  My love of well-crafted elixirs has served as the impetus behind my homemade bitters and simple syrups and well stocked collection of apertifs, digestifs, and other high-end liquor products, including falernum.  Recently, I just strained my first attempt at an artisanal allspice dram with hints of ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg and wanted to create something flavorful with falernum.


Falernum is a syrup that contains almond, ginger, cloves, and lime juice.  Found often in tiki drinks, falernum was brought to us by the good people of the West Indies.  If there is one term that describes those people who brought their island culture to the US, its soul and falernum has a lot of that.  Recently, filmmaker and Emerson College graduate student, Collins Harris stopped by my house to chat about his upcoming film project, ALX.  I used this as an opportunity to test my latest cocktail concoction, The Shabba.  Find the interview and recipe below.


So how did you become interested in the arts?

I’d probably have to credit my parents. Kid with tons of energy, curious. Parents wanted to channel that and so I was involved in tons of extracurricular activities….sports, morning announcements at elementary school, church ministries, and arts programs. My Parents also got me involved in acting, that’s probably where I really developed a serious interest. And in terms of music, my guy Chazz put me on initially. He was 12yrs old with 2 albums. So hanging around him, I tried my hand at it.

What drove you as a hip-hop artist?

The craft initially.  Just wanting to be as good as the greats.  I always wrote with certain verses in sight, trying to reach that level of craft. But, I think a turn came when my dad passed away, music became way more urgent in a sense. I needed to do it. It was less about trying to have the best lines or sounding smart, and more about…releasing. Less calculated. More visceral.

How have you been able to maintain that passion in a world of conformity?

That’s probably a struggle all people have, me included. Fighting to maintain some level of purity in your pursuits, or some level of clarity as to why you’re doing what your doing. And not giving up etc…. I’m fighting for that like everyone else.

Yeah, I think we all struggle with that daily.  How do we maintain our individuality in a world of conformity?  I think it starts to make more sense with age.  So, how did you end up in the TV/Film industry?

Well, as I mentioned…I acted as a kid. Nothing big, but I was on some shows and local commercials, stuff like that. So I guess the initial interest was being on sets and around the industry. I was exclusively interested in one side of the camera, but that changed later on. Me and my friends made movies and music videos in the neighborhood, classics to us…we’re probably the only ones who feel that way. But anyway, I liked being able to tell stories. Since then, in one manner or another I’ve been working in the industry.

What was the impetus behind a Master of Fine Arts and career in film?

I wanted to invest in myself and my voice, artistically. I want to be a good storyteller in this medium, and I know it’s going to take years of study and practice. The MFA is a commitment to that journey.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Continuing to tell meaningful stories, in both mediums.

So let’s talk about ALX.  This story seems perfect with new civil rights movement after so many recent events in the national spotlight. What do you hope to capture with this project?

This dialogue is unique because it’s an internal conversation.  The ‘politics of respectability’ I mean. The conflict is over approach. One aspect of a larger question, how do we respond to discrimination? Should we pull our pants up? Or should we continue to sag, while challenging discrimination over sagging pants? Maybe, ideologically that’s an easy question. However, we’re all in touch with the very real and disheartening outcomes of racial profiling. Or employment discrimination. Nothing intellectual about these issues, it’s very real. So it’s an internal question of strategy against real problems. And the pros and cons of each. ALX analyzes a microcosm of this dilemma, or this conflict…hoping to engage these larger issues and questions.

How has the politics of respectability affected you in your journeys through life?

That’s hard to pinpoint. It’s a way of thinking that creates a way of being, and I wasn’t always conscious of my own ideologies, nor was I critical of them. But, I’m sure I can attribute a large part of the person I put forth, to the desire of being viewed as respectable…in general, but also as an African-American male. There’s a certain pride in trying to be a positive representation against certain stereotypes. The bigger question is though, what’s positive? What is the positive representation of a black male? How do I define that? And at whose expense? Also, is my view of respectable based on someone else’s gaze?  That’s a personal and cultural question. So, I guess my answer is…it has affected me tremendously, and will continue to as I work through these issues for myself.

For more information on the film, visit the official crowdfunding page here.

The Shabba


  • 1 ½ ounce of Barbados rum aged in bourbon casks
  • ½ ounce of allspice dram
  • ½ ounce of freshly-squeezed lime and lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce of falernum (substituted Angostura bitters in Collins’ cocktail due to allergy)
  • burnt rosemary


Combine rum, dram, juice, and falernum in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake and strain.  Then, light the rosemary for a few seconds and place on top of the cocktail.  Serve.