Every gardener has his/her “White Whale”. And just like Captain Ahab, we chase this object around with a strong, strange,
usually sometimes silly, and always often boring (to others) obsession. For us, the Sun Crest peach is our White Whale (more pink, but whatever…). Ever since we tried the “perfect peach”, we just had to grow our own. Sun Crests are big, blush, beautiful and incredibly juicy with sweet/tart flavor that just never gets old. A true delight and something worthy of obsession.
Sun Crest peaches are also a serious pain in the fanny to grow, the trees are finicky and the fruit bruises if you look at them the wrong way. (The Masumoto family has some great writing on the subject of obsession on Sun Crest peaches….sadly, we get it). This year we got a real crop. At last, we are satisfied (temporarily).
So what to do with the Sun Crests? (Or any great local peach?) Well….eat it! Now. Seriously, eat it right now. But, beyond that, it is good to have a few options. And while we are all for cobblers (and pies, slumps, grunts, crisps, etc.), the best peaches don’t need to be cooked. Raw is best. Sliced peaches with vanilla ice cream or yogurt? Good call. But in a cocktail? Oh, yes. Yes indeed.
As for the cocktail to mix, this is the easy part. Ripe stone fruits call for a smash. Smashes are one of the great old-time cocktails from way back in the Jerry Thomas era (like 1880). Originally, a mixture of whiskey, lemon, mint and sugar, the basic recipe is easily extended to seasonal fruit, with peaches and nectarines being a particularly good fit. Smashes fell out of fashion a few generations ago, but cocktail historians like David Wondrich helped to bring them back. And not too soon afterwards, expert mixologists like Dale Degroff came up with variations like the Peach Smash, a smash with bourbon, peaches, lemon, mint and a special honey syrup. A good foundation to work from.
But the Sun Crest isn’t just any peach, we wanted its flavor lead the drink. So we use less-sweet/ more-spicy rye whiskey and basic simple syrup to let the peach shine through. (If you have a good, but not great peach, use bourbon and honey syrup). We also forego double-straining the cocktail. Why? Frankly, we spent all this time and effort growing this
damn delightful peach, and we don’t want to waste one ounce of it. Think of it as a Sun Crest peach, lemon and whiskey smoothie. But if you want something a little more traditional, double-strain your smash.
Either way, you get spicy, sweet and tart flavors with a refreshing backbone of lemon and mint. Hard to beat….really hard to beat. So we suggest you find your best local peaches, treat them well, eat them out of hand and then mix this cocktail. It will make for a very good day. Continue reading