peachy keen ::::
“This porridge is too hot. This porridge is too cold. And this porridge is just right.” — Goldilocks from Goldilocks and The Three Bears
I can’t say I recipe-test as vigorously as I did for this recipe, especially if just adapting a recipe. This is my own creation, however, and as such, one must experiment quite a bit. In other words, I drank a lot of peach whiskey sours the summer. And recipe testing often is code for “I failed many times before I figured out how to do it right.” In this case I was Goldilocks finding “just right.” Just as Goldilocks had to go through many iterations of comfort to find the best, I went through a similar process in testing this drink.
I first started dreaming about peach whiskey sours when faced with the Georgia summer, blooming with humidity and stone fruit. Using raw peach purée with my homemade sweet-and-sour mix was my initial recipe, but the peach flavor just didn’t come through. When I cooked fresh chopped peached with a sour citrus simple syrup, I found the right flavors.
My next task was the ratios. I had a heavy hand one afternoon, mixing up too much peach simple syrup with a good dose of whiskey. Despite his occasional splurge on a sweet cocktail, Eat exclaimed “These drinks are way too sweet!” (And too strong — I drank two and “took a nap” unintentionally. Woopsies.) I tried the same drink with less sweet but more whiskey when my sister-in-law was visiting. The whiskey about sent us under the table with how much I poured in each glass, more so than the prior trial. The chorus was a resounding “These drinks are WAY too strong!” The oaky whiskey flavor masked the peach flavor. Again, not what I was trying to accomplish.
And so I tried again, aiming for not too sweet and not too rye-overpowered. This drink cannot be a alcohol-forward tasting drink to give room to all of the flavors: balance is important. (Though if you prefer the whiskey overpowering the peach, feel free to add more. It depends on is your goal is to “nap” later.)
My last trial was a success, our guest tasters giving thumbs’ up all around and Eat finally looking at me and saying, “Yes, these are good.” My preference is not to use the most expensive whiskey or bourbon. I tried the Chivas Regal (you can see the bottle in the foreground of some of the photos) and it wasn’t right for these drinks. For these drinks, the solid, smooth, oaky, and caramely 1816 Cask Whiskey from the Chattanooga Whiskey Company at the Tennessee Stillhouse is MUCH better. It is FABULOUS. No, it’s #$%&*+$ AWESOME. Eat was lucky enough to take a tour of the distillery when we were visiting Chattanooga last spring. I HIGHLY recommend a stop there. And buy some whiskey and make some peach whiskey sours! It is JUST RIGHT.
One year ago: accordion potatoes
Two years ago: watermelon-feta salad and lemon syrup and fermented grape soda
Three years ago: strawberry balsamic smash and apricot-earl grey tea pâte de fruit and watermelon soda floats
Four years ago: watermelon granita and whole-wheat chocolate “PB&J” brownies and syrian baklava
Like other fun cocktails and liqueurs like me? Here are some others to sample: sgroppino (ah, the lovely lemon), the one-eyed chihuahua (and the story of our one-eyed furry neighbor), amaretto apple sours (better than cider), caramelized lime mojitos (squeeeeeee!), elderflower mojitos (you will make friends with this one), and apricot liqueur (heaven).
- ⅔ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 cup sugar (you may adjust, depending on how sweet the peaches are)
- 3 large, ripe and juicy peaches, roughly chopped. You can decide if you want to leave on the skin. It gives a deeper blush color to the syrup than without the skin, if you do.
- Whiskey, about ¾ cup (though you may want less -- see my notes below). I LOVE the 1816 Cask Whiskey from the Tennessee Stillhouse in Chattanooga, TN, if you can get it.
- A few handfuls of ice
- A few splashes of seltzer water -- have at least a liter on hand (or cold water if you don't want the bubbles)
- Another peach, for garnish if desired (I like using the cooked peaches from the syrup)
- Roughly chop peaches. Add peaches, sugar, water to a sauce pan. Cook on medium heat to soften peaches and dissolve sugar. Mash some of the peaches with fork gently to release the juices. Off the heat. Add lime juice. Set aside to cool completely.
- Strain syrup with fine sieve. It depends on how large your peaches are, but you should have about 2½ cups of syrup. Chill before using, if possible. Save peaches for drink garnish or use on top of granola or yogurt.
- Put all of syrup and ¾ cup (or less) whiskey into a pitcher. Stir well. (see NOTE below on individual drink ratios)
- Pour and divide stirred mixture into about 6 Old Fashioned glasses filled with ice, top with seltzer, stir well but gently, and top with peach garnish, cooked or newly sliced. Serve cold.
- NOTE: To tailor each person's drink, make them separately. I do not make these drinks strongly alcoholic. I balance the sour, the peach, and the whiskey burn pretty well, though I'm sure some people might like a little more of the whiskey. Each drink should have about 2½ tablespoons peach syrup, 1 tablespoon whiskey (up to 2 tablespoons), and topped off with enough seltzer and ice to fill a mid-sized Old Fashioned glass. Wikipedia reports Old Fashioned glasses range from 6 to 10 fluid ounces. You may need to adjust your ratios depending on the size of your glass to make a more balanced drink. The ones I use in the photographs are a 10 ouncers, and I've used 8 ouncers. In general, you want your syrup to whiskey ratio to be 2.5 : 1 or 2.5 : 2 then add enough seltzer/water and ice to make it tasty.