Summer is in full swing and down South, that means peaches! In my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina we are close enough to the South Carolina border to reap the benefits of this crop. Drive five minutes into South Carolina this time of year and you’re sure to see signs advertising ice cream, preserves and other goodies made from one of the state’s largest crops.
To celebrate the long summer days made sweeter with peaches, I’ve created a few drinks that are easy to make and highlight the season’s golden harvest. They are also based on some famous peaches: the enormous one that housed James and his friends in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and Margaret Mitchell’s famous Georgia peach, Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind. Both of these drinks require a few of the same ingredients: whiskey and peaches. A nice, middle-of-the-road whiskey, good for mixing. I like using bourbon for these cocktails, but you can pick your favorite. I also suggest checking out distilleries in your area and visiting your local farmers’ markets and produce stands. Not only will you be making a delicious summer libation, but you’ll be supporting local farmers and business owners. Now for the good stuff — cocktail recipes!
1 part whiskey
2 parts ginger ale
2 slices of grilled peach
Muddle one slice of grilled peach in the bottom of a rocks glass. Add the whiskey and ginger ale in the glass and stir with ice. Garnish with the other slice of grilled peach. If you’re feeling cheeky, you can garnish with an entire half of the grilled peach. After all, this is the Giant Peach!
This recipe requires grilling your peach first. Inside or outside, charcoal, gas, or electric — whatever you have available will do the trick. Slice the peach in half and remove the pit. Lightly oil your hot grill surface and cook the peach halves, cut side down for a minute or two until you get some charred grill marks. This adds a bit of smoke flavor that pairs nicely with the whiskey.
1 part whiskey (Southern Comfort works nicely in this drink and it plays off the name, but use what you like to make it your own!)
2-3 tbs peach puree
2 parts cranberry juice (I happened to have sparkling cranberry juice on hand, which adds bubbles!)
Mix ingredients in a rocks glass with ice and stir. Garnish with a fresh peach slice.
Making your own peach puree is actually very simple. Cut your peach into small pieces (removing the pit) and blend together in a blender or food processor with just a little bit of water or citrus juice. Feel free to leave the skin on, it’s much easier! If you want a super smooth and homogenous puree, you can peel your fruit first before placing it in the blender.