August 31, 2009

Cocktail Hour: Peach Brandy

Ok, I have to say upfront that I was underwhelmed, and a little disappointed, by the results of my Peach Brandy experiment.

Upon my return from the 49th state, I took my mason jar filled with mashed peaches and brandy out of the fridge. Things look good, so I strained it: first through a colander, then through a double layer of cheesecloth. I began straining it through a coffee filter, but eventually lost patience, and decided what little sediment was left could remain in the brew without an adverse affect.

At this point, the brandy was surprisingly thick and syrupy, and did have a slightly sweet, slightly peachy taste. Master bartender Jerry Thomas' recipe recommends sweetening the infusion with simple syrup, but I decided against it. The cocktails I planned to mix already included a sweetener, and I've heard before (from IMBIBE! author David Wondrich) that Victorians liked their drinks very, very sweet. So I left it.

I capped my mason jar and slipped it in my purse, heading off to meet my test audience at a gathering at my boyfriend's house. I mixed two cocktails, both from Thomas' book: The Original Georgia Mint Julep, which I mixed using two parts Kentucky bourbon and one part peach brandy; and the Peach and Honey.

I had suspected the flavor of the peach brandy would come alive with a bit of sweetness, so I was really looking forward to the Peach and Honey. I dissolved the honey in a bit of water at the bottom of a rocks glass, added ice cubes, and poured the brandy over top. I tasted it--and I really wasn't thrilled. It was ok, but I felt the taste of the honey was overwhelming, not complimentary.

And tragically, the peach flavor was almost undetectable in the Julep. The brandy was served best simply over ice, where the gentle peach flavors could be fully appreciated. But even then...I'm not yet certain why the liqour was a let down for me. I think I would try this project again with bourbon instead of brandy.