Saturday, 28 September 2013

Just Peachy...

This week's post has been brought to you, courtesy of Lockets, Olbas Oil and Kleenex Balsam Tissues, without which, none of this would have been possible. I am currently in the midst of Lady Flu and viewing the world as though I had a vaseline smeared fish bowl on my head - none of which is conducive to good mixology, taste being an integral part of the process. Luckily however, the week began in less snot-centric circumstances and I was able to create a few peachy numbers before the flu fairy descended upon me, sprinkling me with her germ-laden, fairy dust. 

Why peaches, I hear you ask? Well, the truth is that Mr TG returned from a hard day's foraging in the supermarket, laden with multiple punnets of white peaches which had been reduced in price. They were a tad on the hard side, so we left them to ripen in the bowl, but after two days of waiting patiently, they were still looking more useful as cricket balls, than a fruity treat. Not wishing to admit defeat, I decided to turn them into peach purée - worst case, we'd drinking Bellinis all week...

So, should you find yourself in similarly saddled with a bowl of hard peaches, this is what to do to make them into peach nectar.

Peach Nectar

Firstly, score the skin of the peaches with a sharp knife, to make several crosses over the surface - this will allow the skin to loosen when you blanche them.
Place the peaches in a pan of water so that they are covered and bring quickly to the boil - if the peaches are really hard, allow to boil for minute or two.
Remove from heat and run immediately under the cold tap - this should loosen the peach skin and make it easy to peel off.
Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones.
If the peaches are still very hard, place all the cut pieces into a saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom and simmer for a few minutes until soft, ensuring the pan doesn't boil dry.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Push through a sieve with the back of a spoon and store in an airtight container. 
Add a little water and or sugar, if necessary.

As this peach nectar has no preservatives, you should aim to guzzle it within a day or two, which means lots of cocktailing opportunities, or you could just drink it as juice, but where's the fun in that?

This first cocktail brought a touch of summer sun to an autumnal evening. It plays the sweetness of peach against the tang of grapefruit and tops it off with a touch of fiery ginger beer. The combination of sweet and spicy Añejo 7 Años Havana Club, dark rum with the citrus notes of Clement Rhum Blanc Agricole give the drink lots of flavour layers in the tradition of a Tiki style cocktail.

Peach Tiki


1oz peach nectar
1oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
A little ginger beer to top up
Strip of pink grapefruit zest to garnish

Using a sharp paring knife, cut a strip of zest from the peel of the grapefruit and set to one side.
Add everything, but the ginger beer to a cocktail shaker and shake hard for about 20 secs.
Strain into a large tumbler or highball filled with crushed ice and top up with a little ginger beer.

As well as being a gorgeous shade of blush, this next cocktail is a delicate blend of gin and juice, enhanced with the herbal notes of fresh basil. I used Williams Chase Extra Dry GB Gin because it has strong spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that compliment the peach nectar and plenty of juniper and citrus to blend with the pink grapefruit. There are a lot of different flavours going on in one glass, but the result is a delicately perfumed and refreshing  drink.

Basil Blush


2oz Williams Chase Extra Dry GB Gin
4-6 fresh basil leaves
1oz peach nectar
1oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1/2oz simple syrup
Dash of sparkling water
Sprig of basil to garnish

Add the syrup and basil leaves to a cocktail shaker and muddle gently (squish) to release the essential oils - don't overdo the muddling or the flavour will be vegetal rather deliciously herbal.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the shaker with a handful of ice and shake to mix.
Strain the shaker contents into a chilled tumbler, filled with ice and top with a dash of sparkling water.
Garnish with a small sprig of basil - gently slap the sprig between your palms to release the basil aroma.

Now I realise that tequila isn't everybody's spirit of choice, but I have grown to love the smokey, earthy flavour of a tequila resposado and find it combines really well with elderflower and rosemary syrup as in the Tufnell cocktail from my Ashes post. Here, I've used these flavours again, but combined them with peach nectar and topped up with a spot of bubbly to add some sparkle and dilute the concentration in the absence of ice.

Sweet Rosemary


1oz tequila resposado
1/2 oz Chase Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz rosemary syrup (click here for recipe)
1oz peach nectar
1/2 oz lemon juice
Cava or your fizz of choice to top up
Strip of lemon zest to garnish

Before cutting the lemon to squeeze it, take a sharp paring knife and cut a strip of zest from the peel.
Add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the Cava, to a shaker and shake hard.
Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupette and carefully add some fizz, ensuring you pour slowly to avoid it fizzing over. Allow to settle and gently stir to mix.

And so we come to the end of the week, when the lurgey caught up with me and I was rendered temporarily off the cocktail radar. I was sorely tempted to treat myself with Penicillin cocktails, but upon reflection, decided that, although undeniably delicious, the health benefits were debatable. Instead, I made a warming, fruity punch, using the rest of the peach nectar, lemon and honey-ginger syrup. I can testify to it's soothing and warming qualities and should you wish to pop a tot of rum in there too, I imagine you'll be perky again in no time!

Rum Tea Remedy


2oz water
2oz peach nectar
1oz lemon

Add everything to a saucepan and heat very gently for about 5 mins, never allowing it to boil.
Pour into a suitably heat resistant receptacle, cup hands around it and curl up in a comfy chair, preferably with a warm, snuggly blanket...achoo

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