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
- ½ to 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup (see note)
- ½ large peach , diced (about ½ cup)
- 3-4 large mint leaves
- 2 ounces bourbon
- splash ginger beer (preferred) 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.
Amanda Biddle says
A note to the lovely reader who sent me an email about finding my blog through this recipe post and enjoying my writing – thank you! I tried to respond via email, but the address that was entered on the contact form bounced back as undeliverable.
Very refreshing and late summer seasonal here in PA. Use a ripe peach to get the most juice. I used 1/2 oz of the simple syrup and it was good for me. Also used rye whiskey as that’s what I had on hand. Was still very good, especially if sweet is not your thing. Wondering if adding a sprig of thyme or a little cinnamon to the simple syrup might deepen the flavor a bit. Guess I will have to try it again! Thanks for the recipe.
We have made this and when we muddled the peach and strained it, there was very little peach juice and we had juicy peaches! So we muddled the peach a little more and included the mash into the drink. If anyone has had the same experience, I would love to hear their take.
Amanda Biddle says
Judy, so sorry to hear your muddled peaches didn’t yield enough juice. Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced that outcome myself when preparing this cocktail for guests, or received similar feedback from others who have made the recipe, so I’m unable to advise. The peaches should be large (yielding about 1/2 cup diced fruit per half), and quite ripe for the best results.
This cocktail was amazing!
Sally Sherwin says
One of my all-time favorite drinks I’ve ever had!! Not too sweet, but strong and pleasing
Love it! Delicious!
This cocktail looks fabulous!! I’m such a huge bourbon fan. Couple that with juicy, ripe peaches and I’m in heaven! What a great late summertime drink.
I’m not well versed with bourbon, but for some reason I’m really excited about it being paired with peach! I feel like the combo would be ah-mazing <3 And thanks for the clarification on a "smash". That's pretty much what I figured, but I'm so bad when it comes to cocktails (I always take the easy "fizz" route if I do mix up an elixir) so it was nice to see I was on the right page. Haha. I really want to sip this!
Tracy Koslicki says
I’ve been out of the craft cocktail scene so I had no idea what a smash cocktail is! And even though there’s no set definition, I’m totally feeling your interpretation. I also love that you got your inspiration from your Maine trip and brought back one of their bourbons to make your own at home! Love it!
Though I’ve been a whiskey fan for a long time, I’ve only recently gotten into bourbon (I was a Scotch guy before that). While I still love a simple whiskey neat or on the rocks, the spice notes in bourbons and ryes have really gotten me into cocktails of late. And I don’t know what it is exactly, but these intense brown liquors really turn into wonderfully refreshing drinks! I love the combination of peach and bourbon, and the added touch of brown sugar in your simple syrup is absolutely the perfect idea. It’s a great drink – and I can certainly understand what drew you to it on that menu in the first place!
This looks so refreshing with and without the alcohol! Peaches are SO ripe and perfect right now, I’m going to pick some up and try this!
This looks and sounds absolutely delectable. Peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits and I was looking for something fun to do with them. I can’t wait to sip this with some friends.
Marisa Franca says
WOW!! It looks so good! I usually just drink wine but this is one cocktail that would be hard to resist. I do remember my mamma and papa would slice peaches and let them macerate with white wine. They would enjoy their wine and peaches. This recipe is a must try for me. My mouth is watering just looking at the drink — BTW your photos are beautiful.
What a great idea for the abundance of peaches I have on hand. I love the idea of creating a fun and interesting signature cocktail that is seasonal to offer my guests. This is really impressive and I look forward to making this over the Labor Day Weekend.
You had me at bourbon! Then you added peaches and ginger and I know I need to make this drink with those peaches I have on my counter. (and the ginger beer in my fridge) And what a great memory to connect it to – York is such a pretty town. We go to the York/Ogunquit area at least once a year and I’ll have to check out that distillery next time we go.
I am obsessed with that photo of the peaches! I love that it’s peach season because I can 10 of them in one sitting. I love that you added peaches to the bourbon because that would get me to the bar SO quickly. I’m not a big whisky drinker so I’m fascinated that you described rye whiskey as spicier so I’ll have to do a taste test soon to work on my palette ;)
Chef Julie Harrington, RD says
Looks so refreshing! Pinning this recipe to make later :)
Well doesn’t this sound yummy? Hubby loves bourbon, and I love peaches…something for everyone. I would make this by the pitcher full and let the guests serve themselves. The perfect party drink for sure.
Oh, Amanda — this summer sipper is calling my name. Peaches and bourbon are a classic combo for me — must have something to do with growing up in Virginia. When I first saw this, I thought perhaps you’d left the muddled fruit in the glass (a la mojito-style) but love the fact that you’ve strained it for a more refined cocktail. I followed your vacation stories and was living vicariously through you this summer… your trip to Maine is the one I’ve been dreaming about for years. I’ll sip on this one and dream some more.
Amanda! You didn’t make one for meeee! This looks so good- I can practically taste it through my screen! Peaches and bourbon go so well together- I love any kind of fruity bourbon smash. And those mint leaves are just gorgeous! This is on my “to make” list!