Top Banana


The plantain—that most misunderstood fruit—finds its place in a tropical cocktail

If you live in New Orleans, at some point the conversation you’re having momentarily dwindles and you cast a glance across a neighbor’s backyard and see a plantain tree.

The sight of one might even provoke a thought about just where you are, longitudinally speaking. Though a staple food for the lower continents, only every so often do plantains wind up on a dinner table in this city. Green, they are edible but almost all starch; yellow, they possess a hint of sweetness but still need cooking. Only when black do they approach the common banana in taste.

But as far as cocktails go, the banana has an unsavory history to live down. Not only did it play a number of notorious roles in the last round of wannabe tropical drinks to wash ashore an hour’s drive east of here, but it left the picture completely for much of the ’80s and was savaged by chemical understudies like Crème de Banana.

The plantain might just be the banana for our times. It enters discreetly (from the yard) and applies its cologne frugally, making it more eligible and engaging in cocktails than its ubiquitous out-ofstate- license-plate companion.

Smoked Plantain Cocktail
2 oz. rye whiskey
1-inch sliced, smoked yellow plantain
1 tbsp. shaved coconut
1 oz. blood orange juice (substitute option:
regular orange juice)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. simple syrup
Dash of Punt E Mes (substitute option:
Regan’s Orange Bitters)
Splash soda

Puncture the skin of a yellow plantain several times and smoke over mesquite chips with the skin on 5–7 minutes, careful not to oversmoke. Add all ingredients to mixing glass and muddle well to puree banana and pulverize coconut. Shake with ice and strain over ice in rocks glass; add splash of soda. Garnish