You bought a spirit or liqueur because a cocktail recipe called for a very minute amount. Now you’re stuck with the remaining 9/10ths of the bottle and wondering what to do with it. No worries. Thrifty bartenders weigh in with tips and recipes for getting every last drop out of an underutilized ingredient so it doesn’t gather dust on your bar shelf.
Overly sweet drinks with silly names—that’s pretty much the reputation peach schnapps has garnered since it was first used during the dark ages of the cocktail. (In the 1988 flair bartending film “Cocktail,” Tom Cruise’s character pays a now-cringeworthy poetic homage: “The Sex on the Beach, the schnapps made of peach.”) If your tastes have evolved beyond the treacly flavor of a Fuzzy Navel but you still have the remnants of a bottle, pry open the cap glued shut from sugar and try the liqueur in modern cocktailing.
“If something tastes good, it tastes good, even if it has a ‘junk’ reputation. End of story,” says Jeremy Allen, the general manager of MiniBar in Los Angeles. He mixes peach schnapps with tart ingredients like lemon and rhubarb, toasty or nutty ones like almonds or walnuts, or anything with a vanilla note. It can also stand in for the vermouth in a Boulevardier riff along with Zuccabarbarbaro amaro and rye.
Amy Wong, the lead bartender at King Tide Fish & Shell in Portland, Ore., thinks peach schnapps pairs best with fruit-forward spirits, like eau-de-vie, rum and whiskey, with stone fruit or herbal nuances. “Vodka won’t fight the flavors of [it], but it’s not as dimensioned and wouldn’t be my first choice,” she says.
A big misconception is that peach schnapps needs to always be used in sweet sips or to introduce newbies to the cocktail category. Not so. “You can overcome this stigma by using small amounts of it in craft cocktails to balance smoky flavors and enhance the peach taste,” says Jason Shullo, the beverage director for Golden Entertainment, which operates casinos and resorts in Nevada and Maryland.
“I also enjoy sweet liqueurs in something that has a little spice, such as a Mule with fresh ginger and soda,” says Allen. “Peach schnapps is surprisingly versatile, and you can use almost any liquor as the base,” he says. Any base spirit would work well, but he prefers rum, vodka, tequila, mezcal or gin with his Mule.
“Peach goes well with orange, ginger and vanilla to complement these flavors and bring out the fruitiness,” says Shullo. It works well in bourbon-based drinks like Smashes, Cobblers or Juleps. In his nuanced version of an Old Fashioned, the bourbon plays up the liqueur’s peach notes while bitters temper its sweetness.