At Melrose Umbrella Co. in Los Angeles, Scott Eton, who developed an allergy to bananas as a young man, fell in love with Banane du Bresil as a pathway to the banana flavor he loved as a kid. He started adding a splash to just about every drink to see what happened, and the liqueur eventually landed in a cocktail on the menu: the Mezcali Me Banana. The take on a Prickly Pear Margarita reveals how Banane du Bresil can coax nuance out of a fruity Sour. Prickly pear and grapefruit infuse fruit into the usual mix of mezcal, lime and agave syrup, while serrano habanero salt and flamed rosemary heighten the smoky spiced notes in the mezcal. The Giffard, meanwhile, elicits tropical notes from the agave spirit, transporting the overall flavor from the desert to the jungle. “You just need a little bit, just a quarter ounce, and it completely changes a cocktail,” Eton says. “It rounds it out. It’s a tropical curveball for any cocktail.”
At The Up&Up, Dauermann really shows off the liqueur’s range in his Bowie Intro. Suntory Toki Japanese whisky, Krogstad Aquavit, lemon juice, demerara syrup and muddled Luxardo maraschino cherries combine with the Giffard to create something like banana bread slathered in fruit preserves—and it’s a fruity flavor that can be enjoyed year-round. But perhaps the liqueur’s most implausible coupling is in bitter cocktails. Dauermann is fond of an older recipe he developed for Novo Fogo, the Dummy Run, which combines 1.5 ounces of Silver Cachaça with a half-ounce of banana liqueur and a quarter-ounce of Fernet-Branca. Williams splits the ounce of Campari in a classic Boulevardier with banana liqueur, which gives the classic booze-forward cocktail a tropical tinge.
Should you take their cue, Williams, Dauermann and Eton have some advice for home bartenders experimenting with Banane du Bresil. As Dauermann points out, you can swap it for the sweetener in pretty much anything, but especially in cocktails with aged spirits. Williams agrees. In addition to oddball pairings like Campari and sweet vermouth, he suggests bourbon, rye, scotch, aged rum, brandy, Cognac, Spanish brandy, Armagnac and Calvados. “Heaviness and darkness work,” he says. “With white rum, gin and tequila, you have to be careful. Finding the right balance is a little more delicate than those heavier, wood-influenced spirits.”
To start off on the right foot, go with Eton’s suggestion of whiskey—specifically Jack Daniel’s, which he says already boasts some banana notes. “I would say an Old Fashioned is the best start,” Eton says. “You can do a 50-50 split with a dark rum and whiskey, and banana liqueur subbed out for the sugar, and that would be fantastic. Add a little bitters and you have those baking spice notes that trigger banana pie.” That should get you started. Then you can find out how it is in a Banana Martini.