So if I were to ask you what kind of tree bananas grew on would you be able to answer me?
Well, there is no banana tree – the banana plant is a giant herb and the bananas are its berries. Originally native to Malaya, when first cultivated 10,000 years ago the banana had little flesh and large stony seeds and were pollinated by bats. The bananas we eat today which have effectively been ‘domesticated’ were produced to be sweet with lots of flesh but unfortunately this has rendered them sterile and practically all the bananas we eat have had to be propagated by hand. This also means that they are very susceptible to disease and unless a GM variety is developed soon, the banana could become extinct within our lifetime.
Bananas are the world’s most profitable export crop – worth $12 billion per year and supports 400 million people. Extinction could be catastrophic for millions of people who already live below the property line.
Although we tend to think of the tropics when we think of where bananas grow, Europe’s largest producer of the crop is Iceland where greenhouses are heated by the geothermal springs.
I created the Dreadlock Holiday as a signature cocktail for Appleton V/X Rum which were using as our house pour Rum at Obsidian. I wanted to use banana flavours as this flavour is quite distinctive in high-ester Jamaican Rums and coconut which is usually present albeit faintly in the Appleton range.
The coconut flavour comes from Koko Kanu, a coconut Rum also from Jamaica it has a full spirit strength and is far less sweet than Malibu and therefore was ideal for this drink. I also wanted to boost the rich caramel flavours of the V/X and marry all the flavours together so I used a small amount of Monin caramel syrup. The banana is, IMHO best coming from purée, there are lots of people who advocate a ‘fresh is best’ policy but in all honesty, muddling, then trying to fine strain bananas is a royal pain in the backside particularly when it’s busy at the bar. A splash of cream to give a bit of a luxurious mouthfeel but lengthened with some clear apple juice – I didn’t want the drink to be too heavy and the apple juice remains fairly neutral without actually watering down the cocktail.
Shake it like a British nanny shakes a baby and fine strain into a chilled coupette rimmed with toasted coconut. I also serve it with a side of caramelised banana slices.
The name, for those who aren’t familiar comes from a 10CC song of the same name and is about a white chappie getting to grips with the ins and outs of Jamaica and her culture. I have used the name and slight deviations of the drink for other occasions but this is the original recipe.
30ml Appleton V/X Rum
25ml Koko Kanu
25ml Funkin Banana purée
25ml Single cream
20ml Clear apple juice
10ml Monin Caramel Syrup
Shake well and strain into a chilled coupette rimmed with toasted coconut