This week I purchased something I generally advise other folks not to. I bought a flavored whiskey. I am not against the category, in general, but it is so easy to infuse your own, that I see little point in buying pre-flavored stuff. Same goes with rum, just make your own infusions using the real ingredients. If you want pineapple rum, soak some pineapple in rum for a day and strain. If you want Maple Bourbon, then pick your favorite bourbon and get some high quality maple syrup and go to town. I guess the point is, when you make your own you get to choose the ingredients and oversee the process and that generally works out better than grabbing something mass produced off the shelf. Unless there is marketing involved, then all bets are off. Which is why we gather here today. Won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Banana Flip.
I purchased a bottle of Howler Head Banana Infused Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey based on a short sample and one look at its gloriously monkey emblazoned bottle. The sample told me it was pretty good and the bottle said “I have to live on your back bar. You’re a monkey with delusions of grandeur, I’m a monkey on a yellow and red bottle, it’s clearly meant to be.” So, I collapsed under the weight of this advertising message and brought it home. Like always, when I buy some silly one trick pony of a bottle, I tried to find something to use it in immediately.
I think this is our first foray into the “flip” family of drinks. Flips have been around practically forever, first appearing in print in 1695. Those old versions were served warm and involved a red hot iron immersed in the drink to stir and heat them, we will be doing one of these around the holidays. Later versions, first codified in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 “How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion“, added an egg for creaminess and are served cold. I really need to get a copy of that book, I mean “Bon Vivant’s Companion”, come on. Anyway, the key to a proper flip is a serious dry shake to really get that egg incorporated and frothy.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 1/2 ounces of banana infused bourbon, Howler Head, in this case; 1/2 an ounce of demerara simple syrup, 2-3 dashes of El Guapo Tricentennial Barrel Aged Bitters, add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “When the Levee Breaks” Led or Dread Zeppelin work fine here. Don’t tire yourself out too much though, because we have another step. Strain your drink from one tin to the other and discard the ice, before adding a whole egg. Well not the whole thing, I mean take it out of the shell, but put both the yolk and the white in the drink and give it another shake. Hard this time, with feeling, for a while. The whole point of a flip is to get the egg completely emulsified with the alcohol and sugar. When you are feeling tired, like you can’t go on, persevere for just a few moments more, before breaking your tins open and pouring this beauty of a drink into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a chunk o’nanner on a cocktail pick and dust the whole thing with some freshly grated nutmeg.
This drink is good enough. Excellent in fact, perhaps a bit sweet for my tastes, I might back that demerara to 1/4 ounce next time, but it is a very nice trifle of a drink and a great use of banana infused whiskey. Plus you could serve this by the fire and talk to your guests about the flips of olden days, of fiery pokers heated in a forge, drinks made with the sweat of your brow and spices brought on the ships from the west indies that came into port with news of British troops on the move outside Concord. That will be fun for you, let me know how it goes.
Still, I am unrepentant. This Howler Head Bourbon is a triumph of marketing. It is fearfully and wonderfully made, a credit to its genre, but you should still infuse your own alcohols. I like it, I will serve it, I will find more ways to use it in drinks. I am going to say that it is the exception that proves the rule. Banana is hard to get right and they do. It tastes like a proper banana, not some Laffy Taffy journey into chemical aftertastes. So go out and buy it, if you are into that sort of thing, the bottle is a beauty. As for me and my house, I am still gonna buy it, but then I will put my hair up into a man bun, pop on my specs and craft my own bitters to pair with it or something, just to keep my pride up. But that’s just me, you do you. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.