I’m not entirely sure why we bought a peach tree.
Well, I say “we,” but I’m reasonably confident that this was one of the innumerable ideas that I was very enthusiastic about at the time, and that my wife probably rolled her eyes and sighed deeply, which I, in turn, probably took as assent.
Anyway, we did buy a peach tree and planted it in our front yard, by the path that leads to our driveway. Our child was very small at the time, so we made a big deal about naming our baby tree Baby Tree. Following a system of benevolent neglect, we left Baby Tree to more or less do its own thing – watering it occasionally, and (at least on my part) lavishing it with compliments.
After a couple of years, it became clear that Baby Tree is something of an overachiever – producing just a few fruits at first, then just about enough for our small family, then a frankly ludicrous number of peaches.
(Also, as the years have gone by, my now teenager has approved less and less of referring to our friend as Baby Tree. It is no longer a baby and – apparently – “Baby Tree” smacks of sexism. This past spring, as I made my way to my car, past the blossom-laden peach tree, I greeted it with a hearty, “Lookin’ good, Baby Tree!” and I’m pretty sure it blushed, so The Teen may have a point.)
All of which is to say, our cocktails of late summer have a peach theme.
But here’s the thing about peaches. Some of them are better than others. If – hypothetically – you were to find yourself with a ludicrous amount of peaches that were okay, but not particularly sweet or flavorful, you can make them into a nectar. First, juice them using an electric juicer. Bring the peach juice together with sugar (nine parts juice to one part sugar) to a boil, take it off the heat and add an ounce or so of lime or lemon juice to it. Alternatively, buy peach nectar in the juice aisle of your supermarket.
3 oz. peach nectar, or 1 fresh, sweet peach, pitted and muddled (Just split the peach in half and drop it into your shaker. You are muddling it anyway, so it doesn’t need to be chopped or diced. Don’t worry about the skin; it will add color and depth to your cocktail.)
2 oz. vodka
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. grenadine
Shake over ice until extremely cold. Serve in a martini glass.
I recently stumbled onto a reference to Catharina von Wartenberg.
She is best remembered today as the mistress of King Frederick I of Prussia, but most historians are pretty certain that Frederick and Catharina never had any kind of physical relationship. Frederick was devoted to his wife, and friends with Catharina and her husband, so in order to comply with the fashion for European royalty to keep lovers, he had her declared as his official mistress and met with her often for tea, conversation and advice.
Another remarkable story about Catharina is that on one occasion, the wife of the Dutch ambassador tried to cut in front of her at an official function and the two women got into a knock-down fist fight (which Catharina won). Frederick was so impressed by this that he threatened to pull all of Prussia’s troops out of Flanders unless the ambassador’s wife apologized.
Which she did.
This is a woman who deserves to have a cocktail named after her.
This recipe balances the fruitiness of a peach with the bubbles of a sparkling wine, with a hint of jalapeño, just so everyone remembers who they’re dealing with.
1/4 jalapeño pepper
1 oz. vodka
2 oz. peach nectar, or 1 fresh, sweet peach, muddled
∼3 oz. prosecco, to top
Muddle a jalapeño thoroughly in a shaker.
Add vodka and dry shake vigorously.*
Add peach nectar, then shake again, over ice.
Strain and pour into champagne flute.
Top with prosecco.
* Why shake this drink twice? Capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot, is alcohol soluble, so shaking the muddled jalapeño with vodka will help extract heat and flavor, before adding the other ingredients.
A Rum & Tonic is an underappreciated classic.
“Ooh,” critics will say to you. “Rum AND tonic? Won’t that be too sweet?”
Point #1 – Tonic water always strikes me as more bitter than sweet.
Point #2 – Sweet? You mean like fruit juice or Coke – the classic mixers for rum?
Point #3 – God hates a coward.
Start with a solid, well balanced Rum & Tonic, then lean into the sweetness by adding homemade peach sorbet, because nobody should ever judge you on what’s delicious to you.
Rum & Tonic with Peach Sorbet
2 oz. Rhum Agricole (or a dark rum like Myers’s, if you’re not fancy)
5 oz. tonic water
2-3 1 oz. scoops of peach sorbet (see below)
∼ 750 gr. peeled, diced fresh peaches (6-7 self-respecting peaches)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup Amaretto
1 oz. lime juice
1) Bring peaches, sugar and salt to a slow boil in a medium saucepan and cook until soft (∼10 minutes). Don’t worry about the lack of liquid. The peaches will look after that, themselves.
2) Let mixture cool.
3) Add amaretto and lime juice.
4) Store in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight.
5) Using a blender, or immersion blender, blend cold mixture. (Smooth? Chunky? Follow your heart.)
6) Freeze in ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
7) Harden soft sorbet in freezer.
3D-Glasses is a new monthly column in the Heavy Table written by John Fladd. Each edition presents three cocktails based on a single ingredient, or three new versions of a classic cocktail.