Dreaming of a tropical getaway? Look no further than your glass. Bartenders are going bananas for the tropical fruit right now. Made into shrubs, brewed into banana “tea,” dehydrated as a garnish or infused into cordials, these are just a few ways bananas are bringing sunshine to cocktail menus right now.
Even Juleps are going bananas. Beverage director Gareth Howells starts with a split-spirit base (equal-parts cachaça and rye whiskey) and dresses it up with banana-chip-infused falernum and green peppercorn, and coriander-infused demerara syrup, plus pineapple and lemon juices. The Julep cup is garnished with a traditional mint sprig and a not-so-traditional dehydrated banana chip.
(image: Oleg March)
A growing number of bartenders are thinking about ways to reduce waste in making drinks, but how many are using banana skins? Beverage manager Ed Dattilo is. He uses skins from extra-ripe bananas to make a banana-cocoa nib-mezcal tincture for a bourbon and sherry sipper, garnished with a caramelized fresh banana slice.
Executive chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis serve up “spiced banana” (smashed banana plus five-spice syrup) with their house-made sarsaparilla malt soda. The drink is available in both mocktail and cocktail form, with the addition of Don Q añejo rum.
A secret ingredient in this elegant drink. Bar manager Gregory Westcott lops off the ends of a banana, then boils it in water to make “banana tea.” The fruit-infused “tea” is then mixed with Eagle Rare bourbon, velvet falernum and toasted pecan bitters.
Because buying off the shelf is boring, Garret Richard infuses freeze-dried banana chips into 99 Bananas schnapps, creating a banana “cordial” for this cocktail. The elaborate drink also includes Avuá Prata cachaça, Żubrówka bison grass vodka, demerara syrup, lime and pandan extract, all wrapped up with a banana leaf ribbon.
Bananas get the molecular mixology treatment with a nod to Dave Arnold, the author of Liquid Intelligence (W.W. Norton, $35) who included a Bananas Justino in his groundbreaking book. First, aged rum is blended with bananas and vanilla bean, then it’s spun in a centrifuge for 45 minutes with an enzyme that breaks down pectin. The end result is a clarified liquid that’s mixed with coconut water. The finishing touch: a bruleed banana cube.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.