As soon as I tried my newest bottle, Giffards Banane du Bresil, I knew I needed this cocktail: Bananas Foster Manhattan. Bananas Foster is a decadent dessert made of bananas, sugar, rum, and spices served over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Get your spoon out, because you might lick the plate when you’re done.
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Why Bananas Foster in a Manhattan?
The Manhattan cocktail lends itself to variations quite easily. For more on the basics of the Manhattan and its history, head here. With a common ratio of two to one whiskey to vermouth and a dash or three of bitters, it’s one that’s easy to play with.
Since bourbon already has so many baking spices and caramel notes in it, it’s a natural match for an elevated dessert tipple. The bonus is as a Manhattan cocktail, it’s served neat, in a fancy chilled glass.
If we’d done this as an old fashioned, as the ice melted we’d have less of the baking spices/vanilla and more of the watered-down caramel and banana flavors.
I didn’t want a creamy take that I might have if I actually made the dessert. Rather, I wanted a sophisticated Manhattan cocktail that left my palate with the sweet taste of caramelized bananas, bourbon, and a realistic banana taste.
I’m not a fan of most banana-flavored items. Most taste highly artificial. However, this liqueur is just the right combination of intense banana flavor and realistic sweetness without delving into that fake banana flavor.
This was one of those Manhattan cocktails that I knew would be a success. It’s designed on flavors I love that match well with bourbon.
If you’ve never gotten banana notes on a bourbon, think about banana bread the next time you sip a glass of Old Forester and see if you get a hint of that on the nose and palate.
What’s in the Bananas Foster Cocktail?
Back to the cocktail. To drive that caramel and vanilla taste, I used bourbon and a bit of salted caramel syrup in this Bananas Foster Cocktail. For the garnish, a slightly caramelized slice or three of bananas on a charred cinnamon stick made the cocktail sing as I took a sip.
While you could drink this cocktail any time of day, I’m suggesting this fits best as an after-dinner bourbon cocktail, designed to take the place of a decadent dessert. Or sipped with a plate of bananas foster dessert shared between friends.
How to Brulee the Banana Slices for the Bananas Foster Manhattan
To make the bruleed banana slices, simple slice relative unripe slices onto a heat-safe surface, sprinkle sugar on top and use a kitchen torch to carmelize the sugars on time. Once the top is a nice dark brown (but not burnt), skewer the slices and rest them on the top of the cocktail.
Using very ripe bananas will result in flimsy bruleed slices that fall apart as you try to move them.
Or, if they seem precariously balanced, simply serve them on a small plate with the cocktail and let your guest decide when to add them to the cocktail.
For extra aromatics, you can add freshly grated nutmeg to the bruleed slice once you’re ready to serve. The heat from the surface will make the nutmeg even more fragrant.
If you love dessert-type cocktails try out some of my other favorites:
- Blueberry Cake Donut
- Pecan Sticky Bun
- Bourbon Affogato
- Dolce and Banana Manhattan
- Rootbeer Float Julep
- Elvis Julep (peanut butter/banana)
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces usually come from the Cocktail Kingdom section of Amazon:
You may already have these bar essentials, but just in case:
Bananas Foster Manhattan
- 2 oz bourbon, at least 100 proof
- 0.5 oz salted caramel syrup (not cream-based)
- 1 oz Giffard's Banane du Bresil
- 12 drops Bitterman's 'Elemakule' Tiki bitters
- 2 dashes Fee Brother's Black Walnut bitters
- Garnish: caramelized banana slices, mint leaves
- Combine bourbon, syrup, liqueur and bitters in a mixing glass and fill with ice!
- Stir until well-chilled.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with banana slices you've caramelized with a kitchen torch and/or a mint leaf. Cheers!