We are all chasing something. Maybe it is the right house or job or partner. Maybe it’s that perfect lyric, the hook that makes the song. Maybe it is finally getting the smoke ring just right in your brisket. There are lots of things worth chasing. Honestly, most of us are chasing lots of things at the same time. While we are working at the next big thing on the career path, we are also seeking out that rare tiki mug or a Corgi Batmobile, while reading Kierkegaard to broaden our understanding of leaps of faith, as we strive to be better partners, parents and children in a world where the rules keep changing so quickly that may have given up on trying to understand and just cling to symbols as some sort of anchor in the storm. There is a lot going on out there and it drives me to distraction some days, that is one of my coping mechanisms, finding something to focus on that helps me close out the things that keep me awake at night. Daily chases and long term quests help with that. Today’s drink is another step on a long term quest, a puzzle that has been in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. If there are those among you who also yearn for knowledge, who feel the call to discern that which is hidden, I ask that you join with me now, as we stand and make, The Traveling Banana.
We are going to have to deal with that name, first. Yeah, I get it “Monkeybrad’s Traveling Banana” sounds like a cheesy 70’s porno recut for late night cable, full of big mustaches, long hair and the never ending search for the perfect split. Starring Ron Jeremy as a fella with less hair and a hell of a lot more everything else than our hero. I get that. The film wouldn’t do great at the box office, but imagine the marketing possibilities. A whole line of Monkeybrad’s Traveling Banana gear. Satin yellow shorts, black and yellow striped knee socks, Big Banana thermos bottles, lipstick cases, Banana Peel lubrication products for your squeaky hinges and don’t forget the obvious personal massagers, perfect for sore shoulders, aching neck muscles and other harder to scratch itches in our exclusive “fairly average” traveling size perfect for those weekend getaways. Yeah, everyone would want their own Monkeybrad’s Traveling Banana. I know that is not true, but don’t ruin this for me, I am having a moment here. Maybe that’s another goal I could chase, my own banana merch. Who knows, it could happen. The idea definitely has appeal. Anyway, you didn’t come here to hear about my adolescent fantasies of a buzzing banana empire, you came for a drink. So let’s make it.
Grab a chilled mixing pitcher and pop in 3/4 of an ounce of Banana Liqueur, I went with Giffard’s Banana du Bresil; 3/4 of an ounce of dark rum, I chose Appleton Estate Signature; 3/4 of an ounce of smoky peaty scotch, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, naturally; 1/2 an ounce of amontillado sherry, I went with the cheap Taylor stuff; 1/4 ounce of orgeat and 2-3 drops of 18-21 Prohibition Aromatic Bitters. Add 4-5 handcrafted, artisan ice cubes and stir to the beat of the love theme from Monkeybrad’s Traveling Banana, Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” the perfect choice when you need smoove sounds, a sexy groove and way to express both desire and mild disappointment. That’s my policy, always leave them wanting more. When your drink is as chill as Mr. White’s rumbling baritone, grab your julep strainer and pour into a simple rocks glass over one large beautifully crafted cube. Garnish with a lime twist, because you are just too cool to throw any real effort into it and serve.
Ah, this is lovely, as expected. Smoky scotch and banana just work so well together. There is a lot of alcohol going on here, but that orgeat sweetens it up just enough to go down smooth. This is a truly wonderful drink, not the one I am chasing, but I am glad the quest led me here. This drink was created by Sam Treadway at one of my favorite speakeasies in Boston, the truly amazing Backbar. They have a great vibe and a truly wonderful bar program. It is small, intimate and absolutely one of a kind. They have an incredible selection of alcohols for their staff to choose from and they put them together in some of the most interesting and complex combinations I have ever seen. In fact, it is another of their creations that led me to this drink. A couple of years ago, Jenn and I spent an evening, hiding from the fire breathers on the street outside, sampling their wares. Among the several wonderful drinks, was a smoky scotch based tiki drink, served in a tusken raider glass, the Bananakin Skywalker. I ordered it on a whim and it was so good that I had to have a couple of them, for research sake. At the time, I wasn’t mixing a lot of drinks on my own, so I did not beg for more info. I still crave that drink though, so nice and well balanced and, honestly, unexpected. I have searched the internet for it, only finding references in passing, but never a recipe. So when I saw a banana and scotch drink from Backbar, I got really excited, thinking it might be the base for the tiki drink. I don’t think it is, but we are getting into the right ballpark, I might cheat some lime juice and pineapple into this one and get close or maybe I will someday discover the secret. Sam has his own YouTube channel where he is making a drink a day, so maybe he will share it and I will finally be able to enjoy the Bananakin Skywalker here at home, instead of flying from Nashville to Boston, which I would totally do, at the drop of a hat, just for this drink. Oh, and to see Jenn, of course.
So, that is one of the things I am chasing. I know it may not seem like much, but it is one of the side quests always running in the back of my head. Still on the lookout for a decent vintage Corgi Jr. Batmobile or the Ape tiki mug or drinkbot from an old Tiki Bar TV episode or those cool measuring spoons Iz Harris uses to make granola, you know, side quests of acquisition. Those physical things you can acquire with the proper application of time and money are the easy ones. The educational ones are a little harder, they take more time and focus. The spiritual ones are seemingly impossible, as it seems like the more you learn the harder it is to have real faith in much anything, but life needs some sort of faith and belief in something, so I keep chasing. Maybe the hardest ones are the big vague ones, being a better human and such. They are nebulous and have many pitfalls and no real decent measurement for success, those are the ones where you just have to keep trying, working on incremental improvement, instead of perfection. That is the beauty of it all, no matter what you call them. Goals, side quests, education, searches for meaning, they are all just things we can chase. Little goals to keep us moving forward. Moving forward matters. Going forward means growth and when you grow your muscles stretch, maybe they get sore and need a little relaxation. Maybe you need a nice massage, maybe you need Monkeybrad’s Traveling Banana; maybe not. Just trying out marketing slogans here. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.