Remember that banana syrup I fell in love with, well, I’m back pairing it with bourbon today in a Banana Old Fashioned. The intense banana flavor of the syrup reminds me of really moist banana bread. So of course I want to pair it with Old Forester for those aromas of banana bread that spread deliciously through the air when mixing or baking with it.
I’m pairing the banana bread flavors with black walnut bitters to add some of that nuttiness. If you’re a chocolate chip banana bread person, add some chocolate bitters to the mixing glass to add notes of chocolate to the cocktail.
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Banana Notes in Whiskey
While it may seem strange, banana is a common aroma and taste from whiskey. I taste and nose banana in a lot of Old Forester products. I specifically get banana bread notes when I’m working with Old Forester 86. And for this cocktail, since I knew I wanted to use the banana syrup, pairing it with a banana-forward whiskey made all the difference.
What’s in an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
I make a lot of old fashioneds, and this one is in the top two or three for the year. It’s an amazing cocktail I designed just for bourbon lovers for one simple reason. It is all about the bourbon. This is not a cocktail that hides the bourbon. The bourbon is front and center and paired with nuttiness from the bitters and banana from the syrup. Both those elements simply push the bourbon front and center here.
I imagined this cocktail would be good. I didn’t imagine that I would fall in love with it and want to send it to every single bourbon drinker I know. The good thing is, I know where I can get more bananas.
The old fashioned is a deceptively simple cocktail. In its purest form it’s spirit, sugar and bitters. These days, the base spirit is usually a bourbon or rye. And since you know I’m a whiskey girl I’m sticking with bourbon for this one.
While I generally make my old fashioneds in a mixing glass and strain them into a rocks glass with one large cube, this one, with just three ingredients, is easy to build in a glass.
For a full history of the old fashioned and the basics of how to make one (including my recipe for the perfect old fashioned), take a look at my article here: How to Make a Perfect Old Fashioned.
How to Make Banana Syrup for the Banana Old Fashioned
Peel 3 very ripe bananas and put them in a small saucepan. Add a third cup of water and a cup of sugar. Break up the bananas just enough that you can move the liquid through the pan. Let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. It will be foamy, but that’s normal. Turn off the heat and let cool. Strain into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge. It makes about a cup of syrup.
It was easy and fast. The only thing that took any time was straining it, but even that took no more than about 3 minutes.
How to Make the Banana Old Fashioned
Add ½ oz of the luscious banana syrup to a mixing glass, 2 oz of bourbon (Old Forester preferred), and 2 dashes of Fee Brothers Black Walnut bitters. Add ice, stir until chilled. I usually under dilute an old fashioned if I want to sip on it for a while so it doesn’t get watery while I’m drinking it.
Strain into a rocks glass with one large cube. I garnished it with a knotted vanilla bean. That turned out to be an excellent choice. I was able to drop it in the glass and let it infuse with bourbon while I was sipping. Now, the next time I need a vanilla bean, I’ll be using the one that infused in the banana old fashioned cocktail.
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Banana Old Fashioned
- ½ oz banana syrup**
- 2 oz bourbon Old Forester preferred
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers’ black walnut bitters
- Garnish: orange peel and vanilla bean
- Add syrup, bourbon and bitters to a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well-chilled, strain into a rocks glass with a large cube and garnish.
- 3 very ripe bananas
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water