You should put banana liqueur in your Manhattan and in your Negroni. You should drink it with mezcal and scotch and aquavit. You should mix into spirit-forward, bitter, dry and otherwise unlikely cocktails. Banana liqueur—more specifically, Giffard Banane du Bresil ($32)—is the Swiss army knife of bartending ingredients you never knew you needed. But bartenders are in on the secret, and they’ve been using it to make bafflingly delicious cocktails for years now.
Bottles like St-Germain (aka, bartender’s ketchup), St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur appear on almost every backbar because they’re so incredibly useful, even if they seem slightly obscure to the home bartender. Since it launched in 2013, Banane du Bresil has quietly joined that roster at craft cocktail bars across the country. To make the liqueur, Giffard macerates Brazilian bananas with a neutral spirit made from sugar beets and blends the result with banana essence to infuse a wide range of banana flavor. The company also finishes the liqueur with Cognac to deepen the taste and enhance the caramelized sweetness just a touch. Sweet yet subtle and enticingly tropical, it’s nothing like the artificially flavored syrup you know as banana liqueur or créme de banana.