Aviary Cocktail: Perfect Storm

Unless you have some pyrolized banana liquor sitting around next to the rum, this is a drink that takes a bit of time from start to finish. About 30 days or so to be exact. What is pyrolized banana exactly? Well, if you’ve ever tried black garlic or cooked with it, you have had pyrolized garlic. It is not a fermentation process as some mistakenly think. It is a very slow caramelization of the sugars in vegetables or fruit for weeks until they turn black with various flavors that you cannot get any other way ranging from sweet to savory.

The Aviary cocktail book utilizes this process to pyrolize not just bananas but even sweet liqueurs such as Chartreuse. They have bottles of the stuff going for 12 months! I don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon. For the bananas though (and most other vegetables, I made garlic and apples while I was doing this too) it takes 30 days or so. The first step is to vacuum seal the peeled fruit and drop it in a boiling water pot for about 10 minutes. This is to pasteurize it and ensure nothing grows while it is in the dehydrator. Then I put it in a dehydrator at 70C and left it alone for 30 days until the fruit turned black.

To make a liquor from this, I blended the fruit with Cognac (the book uses banana liqueur but I was not going to use the one bottle I had for this) and lacking a centrifuge I let the mixture settle naturally and drained as much as I can from the top. I dumped the rest in a coffee filter and let it drain…very slowly. I ended up with a pretty clear dark liquid that is banana flavored but not like any I have ever tasted. It is rich, not terribly sweet with hints of vanilla and brown sugar.

Another component that I changed up a bit is the Tonka bean syrup. Tonka beans are not widely available at the local market and I did not want to buy them online without being sure of the quality. Since Tonka bean flavor is often described as a mix of vanilla and coffee among other things I made a vanilla bean syrup with ginger juice (fresh ginger run through the juicer) sugar, vanilla bean and a couple of coffee beans. I blended those and strained the liquid. This is delicious and I have used it for other Tiki style drinks with great results. It is basically a simple syrup format with the ginger juice subbing in for the water.

A cool feature of many Aviary cocktails is the flavored ice. I posted about one a while back with ice cubes made from milk. The ice chills of course, but also adds flavor to the party. In this case the cocktail features a roasted banana ice spear. The bananas in their peels are roasted till the peels turn black then they are sliced and vacuum sealed with water, sugar, cracked peppercorns, Makrut lime leaves and a little banana liqueur. The bag sits in the immersion circulator at 80C for 2 hours. It is then chilled, the liquid strained and frozen. At the Aviary they use special “spear” shaped molds. I do not have those. So, I froze the stuff in a square block and then cut it to shape. It worked reasonably well. Since I only needed enough for a few cocktails, I managed to salvage more than I needed in decent shape.

To assemble and serve, I put lime juice, syrup and water in an iSi whipper. I let that chill very well. The colder the liquid the more carbonation it can take. Before serving I charged that with 2 CO2 charges and shook the mixture to dissolve the CO2. I then released the gas out (hold it straight up and pull the handle slowly and gently until all the gas is out, these cream whippers only release their liquid if you hold them upside down by design). I carefully opened the top and poured the contents over an ice spear. Then I topped that with the pyrolized banana liquor. It is a refreshing, complex beverage. Savor it a bit slowly allowing the ice to melt and flavor the drink.

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