After recently completing my first run at a local bartending school (BarSmarts Advanced, you’re next!), my coworkers decided to put my set of sweet new skills to the test. My mission: I was to design from scratch three cocktails without knowing what spirits would be available. The catch is that there is a “Secret Ingredient” being thrown into the mix, which has to play a role in each of the drinks. I had no idea what I was in store for in this impromptu afternoon tasting and was delightfully surprised when I was presented with a bottle of Hiram Walker® Crème de Banana liqueur.
A bright caramel coloring and a remarkably sweet flavor, I knew right away I’d be utilizing the Crème de Banana (30 proof) with an array of fresh juices in my cocktail concoctions. First up is what I dubbed the Banana Harbor, a sweet, you-can’t-taste-the-alcohol-in-this mixed drink utilizing Crème de Banana, Malibu® Coconut Rum, and grapefruit juice (I highly recommend using sugar-free juice since the crème de banana has such a high sugar content already). A splash of club soda at the end makes this drink all the more refreshing, perfect for a springtime get-together with friends.
My second creation was the Pineapple Swoon. I combined 1 part of the Hiram Walker Crème de Banana with ½ part mango rum and 2 parts pineapple juice into a shaker and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and you are presented with what I thought was a beautiful cocktail, again tasting super sweet on the palate.
With my third cocktail looming, I decided to try and steer away from the overtly sweet and create a skewed version of a mojito. The Bite of Banana cocktail found me muddling mint leaves in a cocktail shaker, adding 1 part Malibu® Coconut Rum, ¾ part Hiram Walker® Crème de Banana, ¾ part Lime Juice and topped off with 2 parts Club Soda. A bite of a banana wedge garnish while sipping this cocktail stands in as a replacement for the sugar in a traditional mojito. The banana and mint flavors did not pair quite as well together as I would have hoped, but I’m thinking the addition of either pineapple or lemon juice – or perhaps using lemon infused rum – would have alleviated this problem. Suggestions?
The clear winner among the office crew was…. The Banana Harbor! This sweet treat is a perfect patio sipper for all of your upcoming springtime activities – hey, maybe it can even make for a fun punch! Can’t wait for my next “Secret Ingredient” Challenge – stay tuned, folks!
Banana Harbor – Created by Stephanie Jerzy
1 part Hiram Walker® Crème de Banana
½ part Malibu® Coconut Rum
2 parts Grapefruit Juice
3-4 pineapple chunks
Combine crème de banana, rum, and juice in a shaker and strain into a rocks glass. Top with a splash of club soda and add 3-4 pineapple chunks.