o freeze or not to freeze, that was my question! Would it be nobler in my mind to save my spotty brown bananas from being fed to the compost heap and give them eternal (almost) life in the suspended animation chamber of my freezer, or suffer the slings and arrows of my guilty conscience for not having a better use for them.
After some thought I decided on a plan, jacked up banana bread ( the jacked part refers to bourbon and chocolate chips, I supersized the jacking and added brown butter). I had six very ripe bananas, the recipe called for only four, so as I’m stirring my pot of banana butter mush contemplating the fate of the last two bananas I start to wonder how it would taste infused in liquor, specifically the rum sitting on my shelf so lonely and unloved . Like many of the Polish matchmakers from my family I decide to take a the short leap of faith and introduce them, sad banana meet lonesome rum.
Brown butter banana rum
2 ripe bananas
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
12 oz white rum such as Cruzan or Atlantico
Not surprisingly this was love at first sight , a romance that could only be curtailed by lack of imagination. The process incredibly simple, the butter melted and browned in a heavy bottom pan( browned not burned, the browning occurs once the water evaporates from the butter) it foams first then turns a nut brown color and has an equally nutty smell. Cool the butter slightly then pour into a bowl where the bananas have been first skinned then mashed, give a good stir then add half a bottle of white rum , you could also use a spiced rum if you prefer such as Sailor Jerry’s, or add a pinch of chinese five spice powder to your butter, a pinch mind is all you need if you decide to go that route. Transfer to a jar with a lid and infuse for about a day shaking the
jar from time to time. Strain bananas from liquid though a chinoise strainer, some butter will remain in the rum, if you want to remove it completely the liquid needs to go into a ziplock freezer bag and get stored in the freezer for about six hours, once frozen the butter can then be skimmed off and banana rum re- strained, store in an airtight container for up to four days. If you’re lucky enough to have an immersion circulator and a vacuum packing machine, throw your ingredients into the C vap bag, pass it through the vacuum and submerge the banana baggie into your warm water bath for 4 hours at 165 degrees F, the straining process is the same but the results happen a lot quicker.
Here’s a couple of drinkies I used the BBB rum in:
2 oz brown butter banana rum
6-8 fresh mint leaves for muddling
1 oz orgeat syrup (recipe below in Bar Basics)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
toss mint and orgeat into your shaker and gently muddle the oils out of the mint into the syrup. Add rest of the ingredients in a boston shaker with one ice cube and whip ingredients together same action as shaking just less ice and dilution of drink , strain into a crushed ice filled highball or whatever vessel takes your fancy and garnish with a mint sprig.
The curacao is dead important here, don’t use the neon blue one and try hunting out a good quality brand like the one from Ferrand its less sugary but packs in so much flavor in that 3/4 oz measure. Read a little more about it in Bar Basics below.
Dark & Stormy Shandy
( a shandy is an English drink that is half lager beer and half lemon/lime soda)
1 1/2 oz brown butter banana rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz pilsner ( the original calls for ginger beer)
1 oz dark rum for floating ( use bourbon for a twist)
Throw all ingredients except for beer and float into boston shaker with ice, shake for about 40 seconds or until a nice frost forms on your shaker tin, strain into a highball filed with ice, top with pilsner or beer of your choice, leave enough room at top of glass to float your dark rum , garnish with a lime wheel or twist.
Starting this week a section that aims to help build your own bar at home , its a kind of impress your friends thing and a guide on what you need to make a selection of great classic cocktails.
Since we’re on the subject of rum I thought I would introduce you to the proper Curacao to buy to go with your Tiki style cocktails. Orange Curacao or Triple Sec is a mixer added to many classic and modern cocktails including the margarita and Cosmopolitan. Pierre Ferrand the Cognac distiller and cocktail god Dave Wondrich conceived a dry Curacao that was based on the kind of thing you would have found in the 1800’s , it has a drier, bitter flavor that comes from infusing dry Seville orange skins in unaged brandy. The spirit is then redistilled , mixed with Cognac and enhanced by the flavors of anise and juniper, its finished by barrel aging, the result is a sexy orange and vanilla kissed liqueur that you will be dying to add into every one of your drinks, trust me its my latest love affair. In Los Angeles you can find this at Wine House on the west side, in New York at Astor wines and Spirits on Lafayette.
You will need:
2 1/4 cups raw almonds ( or if you want to play a little macadamia or raw hazelnuts)
3 1/2 cups warm tap water
3 1/2 cups distilled water
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 oz vodka
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water or to taste.
Soak the almonds in warm tap water for about half an hour to soften them, drain and then wazz them in a food processor to a rough chop. Add the distilled water and chopped nuts to a screw top jar and soak for about 6 hours giving a good shake every so often. Strain almond liquid into another clean jar though a chinoise lined with cheesecloth, press as much of the milk out as possible. Add sugar to the liquid, screw on top and shake till sugar dissolves, finish up by adding vodka and orange blossom water . Store in airtight container in fridge for up to 2 weeks, can also be used to make almond soda with 1 oz of Orgeat , 1 oz of lemon juice, 8 oz of soda water.
You will need:
1 quart container of sliced fresh ginger
1 quart hot water
1 quart organic cane sugar
Add your sliced ginger and hot water to a blender and blend for about 30 seconds on high speed, make sure you cover the lid of your blender with a towel, the hot water inside the blender can cause a rise in air pressure and end up squirting out all over you and your kitchen. Strain the ginger liquid into a clean jar through a chinoise strainer pressing out as much of the liquid as possible, add the sugar, screw on the jar lid and shake till sugar dissolves, will keep
in the fridge for about 2 weeks, the older it gets the less gingery your syrup will be so don’t bother keeping it past 2 weeks. Again can be used to make a ginger soda, 1 oz ginger syrup, 1 oz lime juice and 8 oz of soda water. Ginger syrup and lime juice are also the base ingredients for a moscow or gin gin mule, 2 oz of liquor to 1 oz each of ginger and lime juice, shaken, strained into ice filled highball and topped with ginger beer or soda, garnish with mint sprig if you so desire.
Next up…… Apple and Popcorn infused Bourbon