As summer cools and mellows into fall, it's time to begin shifting the way we eat - and drink. Why not celebrate the Autumnal Equinox with a cocktail that mixes the best of both seasons?
A warm/cool, tart/sweet concoction of muddled peach, mint, and lemon, shaken together with whiskey and a touch of simple syrup for balancing sweetness, the Whiskey Peach Smash is the perfect sipper for this transitional time of year.
Maybe it's something about whiskey's rich, amber color and subtle warmth that makes it such a natural for fall cocktails. (It should come as no surprise that the U.S. Senate chose to honor the most traditionally American whiskey, bourbon, by declaring September National Bourbon Heritage Month!) And with the last of summer's plush, tangy peaches still available in farmer's markets, and mint still thriving before the first frost, the Whiskey Peach Smash fits the bill.
Close cousins of the Mint Julep (back in 1862, father of the cocktail, Jerry Thomas called them "simply julep[s] on a small plan"), the many members of the "Smash" family of drinks have deep roots in American cocktail history. Deriving their name from the way mint is smashed - or muddled - they are traditionally made with brandy, gin, or whiskey, combined with sugar, water, mint, and ice.
This particular recipe, designed by cocktail legend, Dale Degroff, brings the Smash into the 21st Century:
Whiskey Peach Smash (adapted from Dale Degroff, The Craft of the Cocktail)
makes one drink
1/2 peach, cut into thick slices 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves 1 lemon wedge 1 ounce water 1/2 ounce simple syrup 2 ounces whiskey (Degroff suggests Canadian whiskey, but bourbon also works well) 1 sprig mint 1 thin peach slice for garnish
Muddle all ingredients except whiskey in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and whiskey. Shake and strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass and garnish with a peach slice and a sprig of mint.
What's your favorite way to toast the start of fall?