Grilled Peach Old Fashioned
A Grilled Peach Old Fashioned is the perfect drink of summertime!
One of my favorite memories as a child was going to the Lexington Farmers Market when the South Carolina Peach Lady was in town. I could smell the peaches as soon as the minivan door opened. Long, plywood tables were mounded with the most gorgeous red and yellow hues of fresh, juicy peaches. I could never make it home without sinking my teeth into one of those luscious fruits. So when it comes to making the quintessential summer cocktail, I combine my two favorite Kentucky summer memories: peaches and Bourbon.
Did you know? – Peaches originate from Northwest China. They were widely cultivated across Persia (now Iran), which is where the scientific name Prunus persica derives. In the mid-1500s, Spanish monks brought peach seeds to Florida. From there, they spread up the east coast of America and the rest is history!
This Grilled Peach Old Fashioned will please everyone from the whiskey lover to the whiskey curious to the whiskey hesitant. The bright, sweet notes of the peaches meld beautifully with the corn and grain sweetness of the Bourbon and are rounded out by that slight grill char. A few dashes of peach bitters bring the drink into perfect harmony, yielding a cocktail fit for a lovely night on the porch or a mid-day grilling treat.
HOW TO MAKE A GRILLED PEACH OLD FASHIONED
- 2 oz. Kentucky Bourbon (90-100 proof recommended)
- 1/4 oz. grilled peach simple syrup* (recipe below)
- 2 dashes peach bitters
- Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. If you do not have a mixing glass, a wide-mouthed glass or the bottom tin of a cocktail shaker will work.
- Add lots of ice: you do not want ice floating in the mixing vessel, but it should stack up higher than your liquid line. Stir gently for 30 seconds.
- Strain into rocks or old fashioned glass. If desired, add fresh ice (large cubes are the best!).
- Garnish with a slice of grilled peach.
Pro tip: dip the peach slice in simple syrup before tossing on the grill to give it a caramelized taste, texture, and color!
HOW TO MAKE GRILLED PEACH SIMPLE SYRUP
- 3 ripe peaches
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Slide and grill 3 ripe peaches. (If you do not have a grill, use a grill pan or even saute pan to caramelize the fruit sugars).
- Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the grilled peaches (peeled, diced).
- Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Dissolve in 1 cup granulated sugar. Stir well to incorporate sugar until fully dissolved.
- Let steep for 30 minutes (this should allow ample time to cool).
- Strain syrup through fine mesh strainer.
- Store syrup in a glass container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
Reserve the peach flesh in a separate jar – it is amazing on pancakes, waffles, french toast, oatmeal – you name it!
For a Non-Alcoholic Twist
This Grilled Peach Syrup is perfect in a glass of iced tea. You can also add 1 ounce to soda water (any bubbly water!) for a refreshing spritz.
HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT BOURBON FOR YOUR OLD FASHIONED
Not all whiskeys are created equally, and that is certainly true for Bourbon. The most important thing to remember is: bad whiskey will make a bad cocktail. True, adding Coke to a mediocre liquor will make it more palatable; but using mediocre liquor in a cocktail will yield a mediocre cocktail, and we don’t want that! Be sure to mix with a liquor you would like to drink by itself (this is mainly true for whiskeys, but can also ring true for tequila, gin, rum, and even vodka). The better the ingredients in the cocktail, the better the final product. I suggest a good quality Kentucky Bourbon that you would enjoy neat or on the rocks.
Now, “better” and “quality” do not always mean “expensive.” When choosing a Bourbon for a cocktail, something in the $20-35 range will generally be a solid choice, but you want to avoid anything that may stand out too much flavor-wise. For example, be very careful using “finished” Bourbons or whiskeys (finished means they have undergone secondary aging in a used cask, such as from port, sherry, or cognac), as they will impart the flavor of the finishing cask, as well. This may be a great option for some drinks but may yield very dissonant flavors in others.
Other things to look for in a good cocktail Bourbon are:
- Proof: 90-100 proof (45-50% alcohol by volume, or ABV) are excellent choices, as they give a good amount of whiskey flavor and “burn” without being overpowering
- Age: anything under 4 years of age (by law, they have to tell you on the label!) is usually a younger, rougher tasting whiskey, which will make your cocktail taste out of balance
- Price: don’t feel like you have to break the bank – there are amazing choices for under $40, and even under $20!
Here are a few of my favorite cocktail Bourbons (with a few ryes, too!)
- Elijah Craig – 94 Proof
- Maker’s Mark – 90 Proof
- Four Roses Small Batch – 90 Proof
- Old Grand-Dad Bonded – 100 Proof
- Bulleit Bourbon – 90 Proof
- Rittenhouse Rye – 100 Proof
- Knob Creek Rye – 100 Proof
Don’t see your favorite spirit listed? That’s ok! Give this recipe a try with your favorite Bourbon and let us know how it turns out. Cheers!
About Erin Petrey
Erin Petrey is the Cocktail Editor for Bourbon & Banter, where she has been writing about Kentucky’s native spirit and cocktails for over 8 years. She is an Executive Bourbon Steward, Cocktail Editor for The Produce Moms, President of the Kentucky Society of Washington, and owner of The Cocktail Coach LLC, where she offers virtual spirits and cocktail classes and tastings. She is a Bourbon loyalist, gin fanatic, and all-around curious drinker who loves to help others find their next favorite drink. Erin is from Lexington, Kentucky and now lives in Washington, DC with her fiancé, Kevin, and her rescue Cairn Terrier, Lila.