The Cobra’s Fang is a classic tiki cocktail made with rum, citrus, syrups, and dashes of bitters and absinthe.
Invented by the father of tiki, Don Beach, the Cobra’s Fang is a fun classic that uses two tiki-specific ingredients:
Fassionola and falernum
Fassionola is a bright red syrup made with passion fruit and other tropical fruits. You can find a few companies online selling fassionola today, but it’s actually very easy to make at home!
My easy recipe uses frozen passion fruit pulp (available year round), berries, pineapple juice, and hibiscus tea bags (optional). Get the Easy Fassionola Syrup recipe!
Falernum is a syrup or liqueur made with a blend of flavors that usually includes lime, ginger, almond, allspice, and clove.
This citrus and spice liqueur adds classic Caribbean flavor to classic drinks like Corn ‘n Oil, the Chartreuse Swizzle, the Zombie, Three Dots and a Dash, the Saturn, and the simple Barbados Cocktail.
What rums to use
The original 1937 Cobra’s Fang recipe called for one and a half ounces of 151 Demerara rum. Some examples of this style of rum are Lemon Hart 151 or Hamilton Guyana Overproof.
Side note: Demerara refers to rums made in Guyana – not that the rums are made with demerara sugar.
Modern recipes often call for a blend of Jamaican pot still style rum and overproof Demerara rum.
You can make it either way, depending on what you have on hand. If you want to use a blend of the two rums, use one ounce of each.
If using just an 80 proof Jamaican rum, use two ounces. And if using only an overproof, scale back to one and a half ounces total.
Fresh juices are key
Freshly squeezed orange and lime juices are critical to making the Cobra’s Fang properly. Bottled citrus juices can’t compare to the brightly sweet and sour flavors of fresh juices.
This recipe calls for small amounts of juice (half ounce each), so you’ll just need about half a lime and one juicy orange wedge to make it. Easy!
Bitters and absinthe
Angostura bitters are easier than ever to find in stores. Don’t skip this ingredient, one small dash adds a lot to the drink, just like how a dash of bitters can open up the flavors of whiskey in an Old Fashioned.
If you’re not sure how to measure a dash of absinthe, you can use a dropper. Don Beach’s original recipe called for 6 drops of absinthe.
You can also use a scant bar spoon, or pour absinthe into a mister bottle and spray the inside of your glass before pouring.
I usually use a mist so that I know I’ll get the absinthe flavor but not over-do it. This is a great way to get an “absinthe rinse” without any waste for drinks like the Corpse Reviver No.2 or the Quill Negroni.
Have everything but the fassionola syrup? You can substitute passion fruit syrup in a pinch and it will taste similar, since passion fruit is the primary flavor of fassionola. However, your drink will be missing the rosy hue and the summery flavors of berries and pineapple.
Don’t have the styles of rum listed above? You can use any dark rum you have and it will still be a great drink.
The rum suggestions will make the best drink, as the original recipe was meant to taste, but this cocktail’s flavors will still work great with any quality aged rum.
Avoid spiced rums with artificial flavors and colors. An inexpensive and fantastic Jamaican rum for cocktails is Appleton Estate Signature Blend. I picked up a bottle recently for around $20.
Tiki-style drinks are known for gorgeous garnishes. The Cobra’s Fang is often garnished with lime and mint, and sometimes pineapple leaves, edible flowers, and even orange peels cut to look like a snake or fangs.
I went with mint, pineapple leaves, and an orchid from Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.
Learn more about edible flowers in my Cocktailian’s Guide to Edible Flowers.
You may also like a non-alcoholic Fassionola Soda, or these other rum cocktails:
- Fassionola Daiquiri
- The Original Hurricane
- Beach Blossom (Rum & Guava Cocktail)
- Classic Pina Coladas
- Coconut Daiquiri
- Aged Rum Mint Julep
Cobra’s Fang (Classic Tiki Cocktail)
- 2 oz aged rum (see Notes)
- ¾ oz fassionola syrup (recipe link in Notes)
- ½ oz falernum (I use John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum)
- ½ oz freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash absinthe
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with mint, pineapple leaves, and edible flowers (if desired).