Shaken into countless tiki drinks and tropical riffs on classics, Giffard’s Banane du Brésil has proved to be a versatile backbar staple since hitting the market in 2013.
The golden-hued liqueur, which is made from a banana-infused neutral spirit blended with banana distillate and a bit of Cognac, fits well into a variety of drinks. In particular, it shines with rum, which banana liqueur has been paired with since the 19th century. (Sometimes, it was added to cheap rum to simulate the flavors of higher-quality rum.) In modern rum drinks, such as Julie Reiner’s frozen Banana Daiquiri, the liqueur is combined with a blend of rums, bolstering the subtly sweet banana flavor. In another classic riff, Nashville bartender Demi Natoli replaces the Hotel Nacional’s typical apricot liqueur with banana to create her crowd-pleasing Elusive Dreams. Banane du Brésil’s decadence, which manages to steer clear of cloying sweetness, can even add body to lower-proof tropical-style drinks, such as bartender Fanny Chu’s Jungle Bird–adjacent Tropical Fluff.
But the liqueur offers more than a tropical edge. With a spice profile that has been likened to banana bread by Kirk Estopinal, the New Orleans bartender who assisted with the liqueur’s U.S. debut, Banane du Brésil can also add a warming dimension to stirred drinks. It’s this quality, in part, that accounts for the liqueur’s presence in so many “Bananavardiers,” complementing the bitterness of Campari with its own richness, as in this version served at Houston’s Anvil.
On the flip side, Banane du Brésil’s ripe and funky flavor can also harmonize well with grassier spirits, such as cachaça, as demonstrated in Damon Boelte’s Boardwalk Flyer, a beach-ready swizzle that also calls on bianco vermouth and lime juice.
Drawing on all aspects of the liqueur’s profile is the Caribbean Queen, a cocktail by Natasha Bermudez of New York’s Llama San. Again, Banane du Brésil’s funkiness pairs with the vegetal notes of agricole rum, while the liqueur’s baking spice flavor blends together with a vanilla- and banana-forward Japanese whisky. The resulting Old-Fashioned riff drinks like “a Hawaiian shirt under a tuxedo,” according to Punch senior editor Chloe Frechette. That’s the beauty of Banane du Brésil: It’s an overtly tropical ingredient that feels at home in almost any classic cocktail.