Within the growing canon of fruit liqueurs, Giffard Banane du Brésil has become a backbar staple. Not only does it offer a purity of flavor—or so say many of today’s bartenders—it’s also surprisingly versatile when used as an ingredient in cocktails.
Made in France’s Loire Valley, the liqueur is produced by macerating banana purée in neutral spirit, which is then blended with a second spirit distilled from bananas and finished with a touch of oak-aged Cognac. The result, with its hints of baking spice and vanilla, can pair well with a variety of spirits and mixers.
“I’m completely guilty of overusing Banane du Brésil,” admits Matt Grippo of San Francisco’s Blackbird, noting that he’s used it with rum, agave spirits, bourbon and Scotch to add “a dessert element to a cocktail.” In The Kapre, a fruit-forward spin on the Caipirinha, Grippo adds a full ounce of the liqueur to complement the vegetal notes of the drink’s cachaça base. “The ripe banana flavor counteracts the grassy funky notes of Avuá cachaça,” he says.
At Odette in Florence, Alabama, general manager Kristy Bevis likewise complements the vegetal notes of certain spirits with that of Banane du Brésil. “It’s wonderfully aromatic and not overly sweet,” she explains of her decision to incorporate the liqueur into her Peel Slowly and See, a tequila-based sour, which gets a kick of spice from cinnamon syrup. Bevis’ colleague, bar manager Brian Lovejoy, on the other hand, likes to play up the liqueur’s tropical notes. “It can easily be used with fresh pineapple or orange juice,” he says, adding that “it does amazingly well with cream and cacao liqueurs, too.”
Though Julie Reiner, proprietor of Brooklyn’s Clover Club, notes that Banane du Brésil can be used to add tropical flavor to both stirred and shaken drinks, she occasionally likes to take it a step further. In her frozen Daiquiri riff, for example, she blends a dose of the liqueur with chunks of fresh banana, plus white and dark rums.
If that weren’t indulgent enough, Lovejoy offers an even more straightforward application: “A bowl of vanilla ice cream,” he says, “becomes decadent with chocolate syrup and a healthy pour of Banane du Brésil over the top.”