It's a lucky thing I've planned ahead and have a jar of bourbon and fruit on its way to becoming Southern Succor. For six weeks, fresh peaches and lemon peel will soak in Kentucky bourbon, the infused mixture will then be strained and combined with simple syrup and aged for two more weeks. This ambrosia can be served in a myriad of ways - on its own, in cocktails, in grown-up ice cream desserts, or as a glaze for grilled meats.
adapted from "American Home Cooking" by Cheryl & Bill Jamison
6 peaches, peeled and chopped into chunks
Zest and juice of one lemon
750 ml bourbon whiskey
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1. In a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, place peaches, lemon zest and juice. Cover with whiskey, seal jar and place in refrigerator to steep for up to six weeks.
2. After six weeks, open jar and strain out the fruit and zest. Press lightly to get all the good stuff out, but not so much as to push the fruit into the liquid. Discard the fruit. Pour the liquid back into the jar.
3. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. When sugar dissolves, cool syrup to room temperature. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then cool to room temperature. Add the sugar syrup to the bourbon, return to the refrigerator and let age for another two weeks before using.
The peachy bourbon may be between steps 1 and 2, but is still delicious in an old-fashioned, the legendary first drink to be called a "cocktail." It's sweet and fruity, and just perfect for viewing the sunset from the front porch.
Joey is a mixologist and philosopher and this is his version of an old-fashioned, with the exception of the lemon - he uses orange. Because he lives in the South, he'll sometimes finish the drink with tea instead of water.
In an old-fashioned glass (a short tumbler), place maraschino cherries, a wedge of lemon and a teaspoon of sugar. Muddle. Pour 2 ounces of peach whiskey, then a splash of water. Stir and garnish with lemon and cherry.
Text & images © 2010, Lucy Mercer.
Just a note on the top picture, found in my grandfather's photo albums. There are no identifying notes, but I love the picture, the way they're dressed - his long legs and 28-inch waist, the flip of her skirt and the way her head leans into him. The kicker, though, are the feet - I have a spectacular weakness for spectator shoes - and the way they're crossed in opposite directions. I think of the couple as Gatsby and Daisy, which is appropriate for this story, since Daisy Buchanan was from Kentucky, home of some fine bourbon whiskey.
Text and images copyright 2010, Lucy Mercer.