Photographed by Luisa Porter.

Bartender’s Choice

Story Jason Browne | Photographs Luisa Porter

After a few sips, when the vodka and the whipped cream have been stirred up and turned over enough times to blend in a cloud at the bottom of the glass, Charlsie Leonard’s banana pudding martini becomes more spiked dessert than sweet cocktail.

The drink was an open-ended request from one of Charlsie’s regulars at Zachary’s in downtown Columbus.

“She really likes desserty drinks, but she’s one of those customers that doesn’t know what they want. ‘Just make me something,’” said Charlsie.

This is rare because Zachary’s bar, which complements the well-known kitchen, is pretty straightforward.

“We’re a beer and shot bar, I don’t get to do a lot of this stuff here. The college crowd isn’t normally looking for a nice milky beverage to get them started,” she said.

So she went into the lab using only drinks that were regularly stocked at Zachary’s. She’ll dip into her personal stash of spirits and liqueurs for special occasions, but she wanted to make something she could replicate every shift.

And she has. A couple of weeks after debuting the drink in early November she was making three or four per shift.

But first it had to get the co-sign of the requesting customer.

“I was nervous because banana is a flavor that people either really like or they hate it,” said Charlsie.

The banana liqueur and the vodkas provide the flavor, but the half-and-half and the whipped cream provide the body that makes the drink filling like a dessert. Not to mention the whole thing is dusted in vanilla wafer crumbs that get sucked under the surface and up the straw with the rest.

“The girl I made it for said it was like I had gone to Sonic and spiked a milkshake. She loved it,” said Charlsie.

Photographed by Luisa Porter.

Photographed by Luisa Porter.


2 ounces Creme De Banana
1 ounce Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
1 ounce Pinnacle Cake Vodka
1½ ounces half-and-half/heavy cream
Whipped cream
Vanilla wafers

• Rim martini glass with Butterscotch liqueur and crumbled vanilla wafers.
• Shake over ice, strain, top with whipped cream and crumbled vanilla wafers.