The first thing I notice when I meet Big Ted is not his size. It’s his smile. It’s a friendly, welcoming type of grin; similar to the ones proudly displayed by most of the locals I meet in Saint Lucia.
Ted Barnard, or “Big Ted” as he is called, is the bar manager at the Coconut Bay beach resort, which is tucked away on the southern tip of the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The vacation spot, which boasts multiple bars spread out over its mile-long stretch of beachfront property, is known for its lengthy drink choices. Between the swim-up bar, the lobby bar, the nightclub, sports bar, restaurants and the tiki bar beside the well-shaded adult pool, I lose count of the different cocktails by my first evening.
Each bartender seems to have his or her favorite potions. Everything from the self-named “Terry in a Cup” to Kay’s “I Like” and Hami’s killer “Negroni,” I ask Ted to mix me the most popular tipple at the resort. He whips up a “Dirty Banana,” a delicious smoothie-like concoction forged from fresh bananas, coconut cream, rum, coffee liqueur with an optional squirt of chocolate syrup.
Because it is forged from fresh bananas, this cocktail sips more like a milkshake. Its thick texture gives it a dessert-like quality. But don’t be fooled, the dirty banana packs quite a punch thanks to three ounces of liquor. Later, I am informed that Ted has an extra-special version of the drink known as a “Filthy Banana.” When I ask him to elaborate on its contents, he slyly tells me it’s made with even more rum.
Ted likes the dirty banana because it showcases the island’s local ingredients, St. Lucian rum, bananas, coconut and Ti Tasse, a rum- based coffee liqueur that is also produced in St. Lucia.
Like most Caribbean nations, Saint Lucia takes great pride in its native rums. The flagship spirit, Chairmen’s Reserve, is blended rum concocted from a combination of continuous distilled and double-distilled rums. The result is a full-bodied spirit with just enough sweetness and a little bit of bite. The spiced version of Chairmen’s Reserve contains local spices and fruits including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, coconut, all spice, lemon and orange. It is also rumored to include Richeria Grandis – known locally as “Bois Bande” – a bark renowned in the Caribbean as a potent aphrodisiac.
While I specifically requested Chairmen’s rum in my drinks, Ted usually blends his dirty bananas with a light locally-produced overproof rum. Hence the potency of this drink. A few too many, will have you floating off your barstool.
Unfortunately, many of Saint Lucia’s spirits can be difficult to find in the states. If you’d like to replicate the dirty banana at home, I would recommend using either Wray and Nephew overproof rum — or if you like a fuller flavored spirit, Flor De Cana seven-year-old rum. For the coffee liqueur, you may substitute Kamora. The smooth frozen tropical coconut-banana flavor is a fine anecdote for Washington’s recent scorching Caribbean-like weather. ?
THE DIRTY BANANA
1 banana, sliced
1-ounce coconut cream
1.5-ounce coffee liqueur
1.5-ounce overproof light rum
Squirt of chocolate syrup
Add ingredients to blender with ice. Blend until well mixed. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.