Romance In Graceland

Orestes Cruz, Empire State South | Atlanta

“I wanted to highlight the natural properties of Cognac” says Orestes Cruz of this brandy-based cocktail, observing that the dried fruit notes of the spirit remind him of a cheese board. His first instinct was to incorporate mascarpone into the recipe, but during the workshopping process—while snacking on a peanut butter and banana sandwich—inspiration hit. Taking a cue from the timeless pairing, Cruz opted instead to fat-wash the Cognac in peanut butter, play up the banana notes with banana liqueur, and the nuttiness with amontillado sherry, while adding acidity with fresh lemon juice. The element that ties it all together is a house-made “creamy agave syrup,” made from condensed milk and agave nectar that adds silky texture to the cocktail.


Serving: 1

  • 1 1/2 ounces peanut butter fat-washed VS Cognac (see Editor’s Note)
  • 1/2 ounce banana liqueur, preferably Tempus Fugit Crème de Banane Liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce amontillado sherry
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce creamy agave syrup (see Editor’s Note)
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters, preferably Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Garnish: lemon peel spiral, dried bananas flags, grated nutmeg

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice.
  2. Strain into a chilled frappe glass over crushed ice.
  3. Top with more crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with lemon peel spiral, a dried banana flag and grated nutmeg.
  5. Serve with a straw.
Editor's Note

Peanut Butter Fat-Washed Cognac:
1 16-ounce jar of peanut butter
750ml bottle VS Cognac

Spread the peanut butter across a large baking pan with a lip, creating a thin layer. Pour one bottle of Cognac on top. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation, and allow it to sit overnight at room temperature. The next day, strain the Cognac through a coffee filter and funnel it back into the bottle. Discard the peanut butter.

Creamy Agave Syrup:
1 part light or amber agave nectar
2 parts sweetened condensed milk
2 parts hot water

Mix the condensed milk and agave nectar with water in a small pot on the stove, over low heat, stirring until combined. Cool and pour into a mason jar. Keep refrigerated.