I enjoy playing with my food a lot, so why not spend some time playing around with drinks. It’s really a pleasure to come home from work and take five minutes or so to make a proper cocktail at home. My regular indulgences include classics like the Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Negroni and a gin Martini (with 3 olives please). This Bananas Justino is a bit more involved than those drinks. The idea for the drink comes from Dave Arnold at Cooking Issues, a fantastic blog and podcast for those curious about food and cooking.
Dave uses a centrifuge to spin a blended mixture of banana, rum, vanilla beans and Pectinex SP-L. The Pectinex is an enzyme that breaks down cell walls…I think. You know those neatly “peeled” orange segments you get in a cup from the supermarket? All their peels are removed using a similar enzyme. Cooking Issues has much more information about that here. Once the mixture is spun in a centrifuge everything gets separated by density. So you end up with a sludgy sediment of all the solids and a crystal clear liquid with all the flavor (and booze) in it. That’s a very neat trick.
Well, I have no centrifuge and have no plans of spending a paycheck or several on one of those. So, I decided to use another one of Dave’s tricks to attain a similar result. I also did not use the Pectinex. I used simple Agar clarification. In short here is what this process entails:
For 750 gr of liquid, boil 250 gr of the liquid with 1.5 gr (0.2% of total liquid weight) agar. Mix that with the remaining 500 gr of the liquid and allow it to set. Then gently whisk the gel to break it up and dump it into a cheesecloth. Gently massage the mixture to get the clear flavored liquid out and leave the solids in the cloth. Take care not to squeeze too hard or the agar will start to seep into the clear liquid through the cloth. Since I was clarifying an alcoholic beverage, I did not want to boil it. So I used a full bottle of rum (Colombian “Ron Caldas”) and boiled the agar in about 2/3 cup of water. Obviously this is one downside to using this process as opposed to the centrifuge, but the rum was not significantly diluted as far as I can tell and tasted delicious. Another benefit to using the centrifuge is high yield (probably over 95%). My yield was less than that but still very good. I ended up with a full 750ml bottle of rum. It’s pretty cool to see how a viscous sludgy banana-rum mixture can be clarified into the clear booze in the pictures below:
The final clear rum smelled of bananas and vanilla and tasted just as good. I used it to make two drinks so far. The first was Bananas Justino (the picture opening this post) with lime juice, coconut water ice cubes and star anise. The other (pictured above) was a classic daiquiri with lime juice and simple syrup. Both were wonderful and I still have enough booze for a lot more of them.