I’ll always save the best bite for last, so, consider yourself warned. Instead of giving up gracefully, I white knuckle it to the very end. Especially when it comes to the peaches. I could share some story of how I lovingly preserve them – a day-long kitchen project that involves canning or dehydrating — but usually I make a shrub. As in an old-school drinking vinegar that’s the lazy woman’s way to preserve. The sweet-tart vinegary fruit syrup is amazing in soda, on ice cream, or in this Bourbon Peach Smash Cocktail.
The shrub itself requires nothing more than fruit, sugar, vinegar, and some patience. I’ve made many variations over the years but I keep coming back to the simplicity of this one with peaches and red wine vinegar — most likely because it’s a match made in cocktail heaven.
It’s particularly stellar added to this Bourbon Peach Smash Cocktail since it lends a tart note to a drink that can easily become too sweet. To make it happen, you just need to muddle a bit of the shrub with a lime wedge, a handful of mint leaves, and a few peach slices. After that, add a glug of Bourbon, some bitters, and ice and shake the hell out of it (when the shaker gets frosty, you’re good to go) then strain that into a glass then top it with a splash of club soda or ginger ale and a few mint leaves. A few sips and you’re going to swear that summer’s nowhere near over — that maybe it has even frozen in time in the form of this Bourbon Peach Smash Cocktail.
plus more for garnish
For the shrub: Combine the peaches and sugar in a nonreactive bowl then cover and refrigerate at least 6 and up to 48 hours. Once the peaches have let off about 1 cup of liquid, strain the mixture and discard the fruit then stir in the vinegar as well as any accumulated sugar.
The shrub can last stored for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. It's fabulous mixed with chilled club soda, brut sparkling wine, or in this cocktail.
For the cocktail: Combine the peach slices, the lime wedge, the mint leaves, and 1 ounce of the shrub in a cocktail shaker and muddle until the peach and mint leaves are broken up.
Add the bourbon, the bitters, and enough ice to fill the shaker halfway. Shake until thoroughly chilled, about 20 seconds then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with a splash of ginger beer and garnish with a few mint leaves and serve.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp