When you first step into Rapscallion, it feels a bit like chaos. This newly opened restaurant is still finding its footing in terms of managing service and logistics, but it operates like a finely tuned machine if you look beneath the frenzied-looking servers. Once you’ve bellied up to the bar, though, it’s only a few moments before you realize exactly why people are so determined to pack into this new Lower Greenville establishment.
The minds behind Boulevardier and Veritas Wine Room have always had a distinct focus on the drinking, whether it’s their massive wine list or the cocktails curated expertly by barman Eddie Eakin. At Rapscallion, Eakin is given a veritable playground of libations, and he’s put his unique brand of creativity into every drink, including those that have existed since before, or just after, Prohibition. The most interesting of these is Eakin’s take on the Corn N’ Oil, a bizarre old cocktail with an even weirder name.
There’s no real rhyme or reason behind the Corn N’ Oil’s name, other than that the blackstrap rum that was traditionally used in the drink pooled on top of its other components, like a thick sludge of crude oil. Eakin’s Corn N’ Oil is somewhat more refined than the sloggy-looking cocktail whose provenance is almost entirely unknown. In Eakin’s version, the blackstrap rum is replaced by Mount Gay Black Barrel, which gets its name from the charred bourbon barrels it sits in to age for an unspecified amount of time.
The real specialty here, though, is Rapscallion’s house-made falernum, a sweet and boozy concoction that recalls the flavors of tiki — citrus, clove and allspice. Eakin makes a batch of falernum for the bar here at Rapscallion pretty regularly, and it is a particularly impressive and inspired concoction. To make this syrup-spirit, Eakin infuses overproof rum with lemon zest and toasted whole spices, all of which are right up front in the nose (and on the tongue) with your first sip of the Corn N’ Oil.
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To accompany your Corn N’ Oil, you should ask for a small pour of that falernum on the side, if only to taste its unique flavor profile on its own, and contemplate how it is interacting with the rest of the flavors in your glass. It isn’t often that a cocktail makes you think, but this one will — barrel-aged rum and lime juice may not be a part of your typical drinking repertoire, but this could be the cocktail that will change your mind.
That half-ounce of straight-up lime juice adds needed acidity, while Jerry Thomas’ decanter bitters rounds out this complex sip. After a quick shake, it is poured into an unassuming glass and garnished with a grilled lime. The grilled lime is a particularly thoughtful garnish, unlike those uninspired wedges scattered across plates all over Dallas. Here, the charred flesh of the lime adds yet another level of olfactory sensation, creating an incredibly well-rounded and drinkable sip that still packs a powerful punch.
It isn’t exactly a tiki drink, nor is it strictly a post-Prohibition cocktail, but the Corn N’ Oil is certainly finding its way back into the modern cocktail consciousness, despite its less-than-appetizing name. At Rapscallion, the iteration doesn’t skimp on the handcrafted details, a necessity that prevents this drink from being a boring old slog with too much booze that just doesn’t translate to the modern drinker’s palate.
And right now, perhaps most important, you’ll appreciate its tropical-yet-warm sensibility as we transition away from summer and into fall.