The thick and rich Banana Cow cocktail is kind of like a whole meal in a glass. It has some rum, but only a little bit (the perfect amount for some hair-o-the-dog action). You won't taste the alcohol in this one: banana dominates the flavor, but bitters and vanilla extract are welcome additions here.
This drink was included in Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide, first published in 1947 and revised in 1972. As he describes it, it is "the world's finest, greatest, oh-so-good peachy hangover special. This'll do it when nothing else will." (Page 270, Revised Bartender's Guide by Trader Vic).
From a nutrition standpoint, bananas are actually great for hangovers! They replenish your potassium quickly and have some easy-to-digest sugars.
Looking for more low-alcohol cocktails or mocktails? The Grapefruit Rickey is a much more refreshing style of drink, and grapefruits have a ton of health benefits! (And you can soak up some of the alcohol with these delicious & easy Banana Nutella Muffins!)
Here are the ingredients you'll need to whip up this satisfying drink:
- Angostura bitters - the gold standard of bar bitters. These will help cut the sweetness of the drink a little bit, and also can help with stomach upset.
- Granulated sugar - Trader Vic's recipe calls for bar sugar, otherwise known as superfine sugar. I found that you can use regular granulated sugar and it will dissolve OK as long as you blend long enough.
- Vanilla extract - try to use a good quality vanilla. I actually love using double-fold vanilla, for an extra punch of vanilla flavor without extra liquid. This is what I always have on hand for baking anyway!
- Banana - look for a banana that is beginning to get some brown spots. If you use one that's less ripe, the drink will get a little bit of a starchy taste.
- Milk - preferably whole milk, but use what you have on hand.
- White Rum - I used Plantation 3 Stars white rum, which is a delicious white rum for a great value.
Here are some substitutions you can make for this cocktail.
- Dairy Free - omit the milk and use your favorite non-dairy milk instead. Almond milk or oat milk would work perfectly.
- Alcohol Free - make this into a mocktail by omitting the white rum. You can substitute the rum with either water or additional milk. The vanilla extract and bitters both contain alcohol, but you can find alcohol-free versions here: Singing Dog vanilla and Fee Brothers bitters.
- No added sugar - just omit the granulated sugar. You won't need to add a substitute sweetener, since the banana will provide plenty of sweetness.
Here are some ideas to change up this recipe with different flavors.
- Strawberry Banana - add two whole strawberries to the blender for a little bit of a berry kick to this drink.
- Mango Cow - if you don't like banana, use a whole ripe mango to blend with the rest of the ingredients.
- Chia Banana Cow - measure out your milk and add a tablespoon of chia seeds to the milk, letting it soak overnight. Use this in the smoothie for even more nutrition and fiber.
- Banana Cow with Banana Liqueur - some Banana Cow recipes call for banana liqueur, or crème de banane. If you'd like to up the banana flavor and alcohol content, add an ounce of banana liqueur and omit the sugar.
To make this recipe, the main thing you'll need is a blender. I used a personal mini blender (this Americana personal smoothie blender, which I love because it works with mason jars, and it's just cute!). Any blender will work great, though.
You'll also need a jigger or small measuring cup, as well as a measuring spoon for the vanilla extract. Also, have a knife and cutting board on hand for the banana garnish.
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To make this drink, start out by adding the granulated sugar and bitters to the blender.
Next, add in the vanilla extract and the rum.
Next, add the milk and whole banana to the blender.
Add about ½ cup of crushed ice to the blender (or if you want to get really specific, 70 grams of any kind of ice). Then, blend everything up until it is super smooth.
Pour the liquid into your serving glass and prepare the garnish. Take a whole banana and cut it in half widthwise. Set one half aside and cut the other half lengthwise. Cut a small slit in the bottom of one of the banana quarters and set it on the rim of the glass before serving.
Hint: this drink should be enjoyed fresh from the blender. As it sits, the ingredients will start to separate. You can re-blend if you absolutely need to let it sit in the fridge for a while.
Frequently Asked Questions
White rum goes great with banana, but aged spirits work well with it too. Aged rum, whiskey or brandy all taste great with banana.
As bananas ripen, the starches in the fruit convert to sugar. The byproduct of this is the creation of a tiny amount of alcohol. So yes, super ripe bananas do contain alcohol, but in really small amounts (about the same amount as a dash of bitters).
Since this is a blender drink, it's really easy to make for a crowd. Use a large blender, and just multiply the ingredients using the ingredient calculator in the recipe below.
Banana Cow Rum Cocktail
- Measuring spoons
- Cocktail serving glass (at least 9 ounces capacity)
- Prepare your blender and add in the sugar, bitters, vanilla extract, white rum, banana and crushed ice.
- Blend everything until smooth.
- Pour the ingredients into your cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a banana that has been cut in half widthwise and lengthwise. Use one quarter of the banana and cut a slit in the bottom, and attach it to the rim of the glass.
- Serve immediately.