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Tiki drinks are known for their elaborate garnishes. While not every drink has to have a half a pineapple planted in it – and many of ours certainly don’t – the array of fruits and flowers that sit atop tiki drinks is one of the many things that sets them apart from other cocktails. The banana dolphin is one of the most fun garnishes to make, as it generates quite a reaction (and always a positive one) when it is set atop a drink.
To make this garnish, you need three ingreidients: bananas, grapes and whole cloves. The banana forms the body of the dolphin, the cloves act as the eyes and the grapes hold the “beak” open to make the dolphin look playful. You can use any small, round fruit in place of the grapes. Blueberries, for instance, work very well. We prefer not to use cherries because pitted cocktail cherries sometimes bleed down the side of the dolphin (not a good look) and they don’t hold their shape as well as a small grape.
To begin, cut off the end of the banana. The larger your bananas, the more you’ll have to cut off. This was a fairly small banana, so we only cut off the end. It is best to use a just-barely-ripe banana because they are firm and easy to work with.
Next, carefully cut through the stem of the banana to shape the beak. Take your time with this, as banana stems can be tough. Cut just past the base of the stem.
Insert whole cloves to form the eyes. We often poke a hole with a toothpick first, since banana peels are tough and we have broken many cloves trying to get them in.
Finally, cut a “V” shape at the base of the banana. This “v” looks like a flipper and also holds the dolphin in place. If your glass has a wide rim, you may need to cut a larger flipper, so have your glass handy and check to see that the banana dolphin will stay in place before you prepare your drink.
Now, pop the grape into the beak, prepare your drink and set the banana dolphin on top! Your dolphin is ready, so add any additional garnishes and serve.