The Bourbon Peach Smash is a fruity, lightly-spicy, and refreshing cocktail that’s perfect for a hot summer night. Non-alcoholic variation included in the recipe notes.
When I was in Maine this summer, I visited the Wiggly Bridge Distillery in York. It was a picturesque New England evening; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the temperature was just hot enough to be ideal, and I was pleasantly full of lobster and salty coastal air.
When I read through Wiggly Bridge’s craft cocktail menu, I knew instantly what I would be ordering that night: the Bourbon Peach Smash. Fruity, sweet, spicy, it was the perfect sip before heading to the beach for an evening around the fire.
Before I left, I picked up a bottle of Wiggly Bridge’s award-winning bourbon so that I could make a York-inspired Bourbon Peach Smash for my friends. A taste of vacation at home!
What is a Smash Cocktail?
As I’ve been reading up on the smash, I’ve realized that while it’s a summer staple on many craft cocktail menus, it’s a drink without strict definition. The ingredients are pretty widely open to improvisation, though there are a few constant elements.
A smash cocktail typically contains a seasonal fruit and/or herb, muddled with sugar or simple syrup, shaken with a spirit like bourbon or whiskey (often, but not necessarily one of those two), strained, and served over plenty of ice.
Oftentimes, the smash is mixed or finished with water or a splash of something fizzy, like seltzer or ginger beer.
The smash cocktail is icy, refreshing, and great for highlighting seasonal fruits, like peaches, berries (as in my Blackberry-Lemon Mint Julep), and cherries.
Want to read more about smash cocktails? Check out History of the Smash from Imbibe Magazine.
About Bourbon: One of my favorite spirits.
You might’ve noticed by now that there’s a fair amount of bourbon on Striped Spatula. I love adding the rich, warm flavor of bourbon to my recipes, whether it’s a cocktail, sweet potato pie, barbecue sauce, or a glaze for bacon-wrapped shrimp.
In terms of flavor, bourbon whiskey is generally sweeter and milder than rye. This is a result of the high corn content (at least 51%, by definition) in bourbon’s characteristic grain.
Rye whiskey is spicier and drier, and (as an over-generalization) can stand up to more assertive flavor pairings than bourbon. That said, depending on the proportions in the grain used to make bourbon, there are certainly those on the market that lean toward the more robust side.
When I cook, I most often use Maker’s Mark. Lately, Buffalo Trace and Knob Creek have been my all-purpose bourbons of choice for cocktail-making. I reach for the latter when I want a sip that’s just a bit spicier.
Of course, finding an excellent a small-barrel craft bourbon during your travels, such as Wiggly Bridge, is a real treat. It’s so fun to be able to meet the distillers and see where they produce their spirits. They’re special bottles to add to your bar cart or bourbon collection.
What Else Do I Need to Make a Bourbon Peach Smash?
The Bourbon Peach Smash is such an easy cocktail to make, which is fitting for the relaxed feel of summer. Tool-wise, all you need is a shaker with a strainer, a muddler, and a rocks glass.
You also need simple syrup, which is a 1:1 ratio of sugar and hot water, stirred until dissolved and cooled. It’s as easy to make as it sounds, and it keeps in the refrigerator for about a month.
White sugar is most common, but you can use just about any type of sugar or sweetener to make a simple syrup. I often make simple syrup from honey, and for this cocktail, I used light brown sugar to complement the peaches.
You can serve this cocktail over plentiful crushed ice or cubes. (If you want to crush ice for cocktails at home, a Lewis bag is also a useful tool to have.)
Whichever route you choose, the key word when it comes to ice for this cocktail is plentiful. The Bourbon Peach Smash is best served icy. Fill up the glass with ice, pour, put your feet up, and sip!
Bourbon Peach Smash
- 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup (see note)
- 1/2 large peach , diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 3-4 large mint leaves
- 2 ounces bourbon
- splash ginger beer or seltzer water , chilled
- fresh mint and peach slices , for garnish
Add peaches, mint leaves, and simple syrup to the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Gently muddle to release the peach juices and mint oils. (Over-muddling the mint will cause it to become bitter.)
Add bourbon, fill the shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
Top with ginger beer or seltzer water. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and a peach slice.
To make brown sugar simple syrup:
Combine equal parts brown sugar and hot water until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Omit bourbon and mix the strained mocktail with ginger ale.