Reviewed By: David
First there is just a murmur. Something is going on but no one is talking, not even speculating. But then there’s more. A rumor and maybe even someone who knows another person who has heard. It’s very possible that something is awry and people are being misled. You can’t talk about it though because no one is sure. Finally it starts to break the surface.
There’s been a monkey incident.
This is a drink that invented itself from a reference that became a name. Like the tag that becomes the name of the band that plays intro to the lead in for the main act. I heard a reference to a monkey incident and thought it should be a drink, or at least an answer to a variety of questions:
“Yes officer, I was speeding but I got an urgent call. There’s been a monkey incident.”
“She could have been the one, but there was no way I could tell her about the monkey incident.”
“I had a drink. They made me wear the hat. And then next thing I knew there was a monkey incident.”
“The monkey incident? Yeah, that could’ve started it, but the elephant didn’t help things.”
“Everything was good. No, it was great. All of a sudden things went bad. That stupid monkey incident.”
When I proposed this drink, I didn’t have anything except the idea that it needed to be frozen and called “The Monkey Incident.” I won’t say I was flooded with ideas, but I quickly learned that anyone who honeymooned in the islands had some type of frozen monkey drink and remembers it to this day, And by remember, I simply mean they enjoyed the drink but have no earthly idea what was in it. But it did have “monkey” in the name.
The starting point was to learn what monkeys eat. Anything they are fed is the answer, but given the choice they are omnivores and bananas, at least the type people eat, are not the first choice. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, insects and even (gasp) other monkeys can be part of their diet. There was no way I was making a drink with actual monkey, so the base had to be rum (the tropical effect) and the cliché banana. A lot of drinks start with that and add fruit (so I am not sure if this original), but here is the final recipe:
1.5 ounces rum (I went with gold but white works)
.75 ounce banana liqueur
2 ounces fresh pineapple
2 ounces coconut water
2 ounces vanilla ice cream
2 dashes orange bitters
Mix everything in a blender or smoothie maker. Blend well and garnish with tiki supplies and fresh pineapple.
Here’s David’s Review:
As often happens, my brother anticipated my next move. Recently my daughter and I engaged in a few thought experiments regarding how a mixologist might convert various desserts into cocktails. Then Jonathan revealed the Monkey Incident.
One of our brainstorms concerned Banana Foster, a New Orleans flambé of bananas, brandy, brown sugar, and orange zest topped by ice cream.
“What we’d need,” I said to my daughter, “is banana liqueur.”
Now I know exactly what banana liqueurs are out there.
This cocktail marks a departure for this blog in a number of ways. First, and most obviously, we’re usually working from recipes and this cocktail is new—though it relies on tried-and-true combinations of flavors. Second, we’ve generally relied on fruit to impart their taste, and this time we’re relying on the surrogate banana liquor. Third, it’s frozen… and creamy… and dessert-y. We haven’t done that before.
Though I wasn’t quite sure when to serve this drink—before dinner or well after or mid-afternoon?—I really enjoyed it. At one point Jonathan’s suggested we might cut the sweetness of the drink by including almond milk as well as ice cream, and that’s what I did. The banana liquor was quite a discovery. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of banana flavoring (or any flavoring relying on chemical mimicry) but the version of banana liquor I chose—99 Bananas—not only evoked the fruit powerfully but also, at 99 proof, packed quite a punch.
The overall effect was an adult milkshake, substantial and sweet but also potent and fun, a slice of vacation perfect for the dog-days of high summer. I’m not sure the Monkey Incident actually is a Bananas Foster equivalent—perhaps the pineapple changed it, made it seem closer, in some ways to a Piña Colada—but the rum (I used Black Seal) adds the same spicy element you find in Bananas Foster amid the confection.
In fact, if I could be so bold as to offer an amendment, I’d recommend going further with spice, perhaps topping this cocktail with a dash of cinnamon or ginger to enhance its complexity.
But that may be more polished than Jonathan wanted. I enjoyed this drink as is, its childlike—but not childish—combination of tropical flavors. I began thinking about Baked Alaska…
Jonathan’s take: I need to apologize to David for making him buy banana liqueur. But there was that monkey incident…
David’s Take: Hard to know when to serve it (or what to serve it with) and certainly not an everyday sort of cocktail, but a great treat.
Next Week (Proposed by David):
Talking to a Chicago mixologist committed to easily accessible, local ingredients, I heard about some interesting sour alternatives to the absolutely-NOT Chicago citrus many cocktails rely upon, and that conversation led me into the world of Shrubs, vinegared syrups that add a sweet and tart element to drinks. Next week, I’m proposing a shrub cocktail. We’ll be following the formula of a specific recipe that requires bourbon. Other than the necessity of that spirit, however, the sort of shrub Jonathan and I concoct can be anything we think might add.