“Secret Ingredient” Challenge

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.

Creme de Banana cocktails - Created by Stephanie Jerzy

Can you feel the tropics in the air? Left: Bite of Banana; Center: Banana Harbor; Right: Pineapple Swoon

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
Club Soda
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.


1 Comment

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One response to ““Secret Ingredient” Challenge

  1. Hmm, this is not my type of cocktail, but I am thinking perhaps a “Banana Split”. Some combination of this banana liqueur, Hiram walker creme de strawberry, creme de cacao, vanilla vodka, and perhaps cream. Try it out, if you decide to go with it I get joint credit.

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