Liqueurs are a nice way to add fruit flavors to cocktails, especially when it comes to something difficult to juice like bananas, so what do you need to know?
Tropical flavors are everywhere in the world of cocktails, but you don't come across banana cocktails very often do you?
Bananas can be difficult to add in drinks because they don't juice well and getting the banana flavor to actually come through with the other flavors in the drink can be a balancing act.
One of the best ways to push those banana flavors into a drink is with banana liqueur, so what is it and how can you make your own?
What is banana liqueur?
Banana liqueur is a sweet alcoholic drink made by infusing a spirit (rum, brandy, or neutral alcohol) with bananas to pull out their flavor, before sweetening and diluting to a lower 20-25% alcohol.
Some producers of banana liqueur also use banana extracts or a distillate made from bananas to pack in even more flavor.
Banana liqueur vs. Creme de banane
Banana liqueur and crème de banane are the same thing, "crème de banane" is the French term for banana liqueur. Each brand has their own production techniques, but it is not the name the makes one banana liqueur different from the next.
Homemade banana liqueur recipe
You can make your own tasty version of banana liqueur at home using bananas, cane sugar, and rum. The two main steps in this process are:
- infuse the rum: let the chopped up bananas sit in the rum for 10 days (yes, it takes a while)
- make banana syrup: to add all the banana flavor you can get you will dilute the infused banana rum with an easy homemade banana syrup
Using both a banana syrup and a banana infusion is the best way to maximize the fruitiness of your liqueur. This version will not have the blast of strong (sometimes artificial) banana flavor you get from store bought bottles, but the mellow banana notes are still delicious.
Tips for making DIY crème de banane
- Keep it clean. Be sure that the glass bottle or storage container that you keep the final liqueur in is extra clean because it will pick up flavors from whatever was in there last.
- Settling is normal. Cloudiness will fall to the bottom of your bottle as it sits. If you want a less cloudy final liqueur you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheese cloth.
- Use ripe bananas. Avoid greenish bananas or ones that look like they are ready for banana bread.
how long does banana liqueur last?
Once opened, banana liqueur will be at its best for about 3-4 months. The alcohol will keep it from spoiling but it will slowly lose flavor and no longer have much to add to cocktails.
Banana liqueur drinks
Banana is a natural pair for rum, but so are barrel aged spirits like brandy and whiskey. If you're experimenting just be careful when mixing banana liqueur with really strong flavors like a bitter amaro because it can get lost in the mix.
Here are a few ideas to get started with:
Dirty banana. Essentially an alcoholic banana milkshake made with cream, banana liqueur and coffee liqueur. It's a blended cocktail that really screams all-inclusive resort vacation (in a good way).
Banana Old Fashioned. Skip the simple syrup when mixing an Old Fashioned and use 1/2 oz of banana liqueur instead for a nice mellow hint of banana. It will be awesome with angostura bitters and you could even try making a rum Old Fashioned with it.
It's also crazy good on vanilla ice cream. You don't have to skip the chocolate syrup, just add that too.
Best banana liqueur brands
Each producer has their own way of extracting the banana flavors into the liqueur so there is a fairly wide range of flavors between brands.
Distillates, purees, extracts and even other spices or vanilla all make up their different recipes. There are plenty of great options but here are my favorites:
1. Giffard Banane du Bresil
A nice balance between fresh bright banana flavors and mellow caramelized toffee notes. It is awesome in cocktails and brings just the right amount of fruitiness with none of the banana runtz artificial notes that come from some of the bottom shelf options.
2. Tempus Fugit Crème de Banane
A close second only because it is a more unique toasted banana that might not be perfect in every drink, but it really is delicious. Hints of vanilla and a toffee gives this liqueur a great banana bread type taste.
3. Marie Brizard Banana Liqueur
This liqueur highlights the brighter fruity side of bananas and is supported by the addition of pineapple and spices.
Whether you choose to make your own, or buy a bottle of banana liqueur, go make some cocktails!
Some more deliciousness:
- 1 cup White Rum
- 1 cup Dark Rum
- 4 Bananas
- 3/4 cup Cane Sugar
- 3/4 cup Water
- Slice 3 bananas into 1/4 in thick slices and add them to a clean container with enough room to add 2 cups of liquid.
- Pour both rums into the container with the bananas and let sit covered at room temperature for 10 days.
- On day 10 slice 1 banana and add it to a small sauce pan.
- Add the can sugar over top the banana slices, stir gently, and let sit until the sugar gets dissolved by the juices in the banana (about 2 hours).
- Pour the water into the saucepan with the banana mixture, place over low heat, and stir gently until you get a syrup (with the banana slices of banana still in it).
- Strain the banana slices from both the syrup (that you just made in the saucepan), and the infused rum before combining them in a bottle for storage.
- Optionally, you can pour the liqueur through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth to remove the finer pieces of banana.
Got a recipe that calls for banana liqueur? Try making your own, it's not that hard and it's pretty good on ice cream too.
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