When life gives you peaches
What does one do with a 26-pound lug of peaches? Eat them. Bake muffins. And, when you’re tired of that, make a batch of peach liqueur. I’ve written about infusions for years, most recently for an upcoming piece on cocktail trends in the Kansas City Star, but never done one myself. It turns out Scott Beskow, a bartender at Grünauer, was right.
“It’s stupid easy,” he says. “People don’t realize how easy it is.”
Local bars are infusing gin, tequila, bourbon, vermouth and other spirits with everything from blueberries and espresso beans to chamomile, lemongrass and ginger. The Der Schmutzige at Grünauer is made with black peppercorn and mustard seed infused vodka, Frank’s Kraut juice, beet brine and dill pickle water.
Bluestem bartender Van Zarr crafted a drink with peach-vanilla infused whiskey, plum cherry lavender syrup, house-made grenadine and a syrup made with lemon verbena from his garden for a recent cocktail dinner. Chris Conatser of Justus Drugstore infused gin with Queen Anne’s Lace seeds (a wildflower he calls a feral carrot) for his entry in the 2010 Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition.
I’m not even close to playing in that league, but, still, my little experiment turned out pretty well. I started by putting a few pounds of ripe, washed, peeled, pitted and sliced peaches into a clean glass jar. In went a 750mL of 3 Vodka that happened to be handy, enough to cover the fruit. I put it on my pantry shelf, checking and shaking every few days. By day six, it was still hot and disjointed. By day 12, it had rounded off, all silky and peachy. Susan Elia MacNeal’s Infused (Chronicle Books, 2006) recommends leaving most infusions for a month, but I decided not to wait. I strained the liqueur into a clean jar; now it’s just waiting for a little simple syrup, ice and my shaker. Then I think I’ll go back for another lug of peaches.