Summer peach margaritas will beat the heat with fruit flavor and tequila zing.
With a nickname like “the Peach State,” Georgia sets a high bar for flavor expectations. Fortunately, it makes good on its promise. Not only is the Georgia peach delicious, but it also has the perfect texture and comes packed with nutrients. From cobblers to jams, jellies, ice cream, barbecue sauce, chutney, salads and cocktails, this versatile fruit has helped put this Southern state on the map.
Georgia’s “peachiness” has a history that goes back long before the nickname became official in 1995. Franciscan Monks grew peaches in the 16th century on St. Simons and Cumberland Islands off Georgia’s Atlantic coast. The Cherokee Nation cultivated peaches during the 18th century in Georgia as well. But it wasn’t until 1851 when Raphael Moses began marketing Georgia peaches outside of the state that the true Georgia peach cravings started.
After the Civil War, a peach boom exploded as farmers sought an alternative to cotton. Soon after, railroads expanded across the South, and with the invention of refrigerated box cars, the sweet, fuzzy treats could now travel to New York, San Francisco and anywhere in between.
Of all the Georgia peach festivals that take place every June, a pair of big events stand out for their peachy goodness. The Georgia Peach Festival begins in Fort Valley (June 7-8) and resumes in Byron (June 15). Thousands of peach lovers descend on these towns to celebrate, eat and enjoy everything related to this iconic summer fruit.
The Best Way to Enjoy Peaches
Ask any camper for the best way to enjoy peaches and most will say in a cobbler cooked in a cast-iron Dutch oven over hot coals. Others will say in pies, jams and even cocktails. The combination of fresh fruit and spirits like tequila, vodka, gin and whiskey have fueled the love of fresh-from-the-orchard peaches like no other.
The Perfect Peach Margarita
A great way to enjoy the bright, sweet and delicious flavor of a Georgia peach is in a spiced margarita. Summertime calls for barbecues, friends and a cocktail that’s cold, refreshing and easy on the eyes. The peach hue, bright-green lime zest, diamond-like salt crystals and rosy red of the cayenne pepper dress this adult beverage to the nines. The sweetness of the peach puree and the heat from the cayenne balance each other perfectly. The citrus punch from the lime zest amazes your taste buds and pairs perfectly with the orange-infused tequila and the extra kick of lime zest in the salt rim. The separate flavors complement each other perfectly, conspiring to create the best summer margarita you’ll ever sip.
Tequila: From Mexico, With Love
Tequila is made from the blue agave (not to be confused with cactus). The five types of tequila — silver, gold, reposado, añejo and extra añejo — are produced mainly in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The life cycle of the blue agave sadly is an 8-year process (one and done). Unlike grapevines that are trimmed each year and can produce grapes for generations, the blue agave doesn’t stand repeated harvests.
The harvesting is a hands-on process. The giant, spike-like leaves are removed with a machete, then the root is dug up and what’s left is a large, dense sphere almost as big as an RV tire. The heart of the plant is steam-cooked to bloom the starches deep inside and, just like gin or vodka, tequila is a clear liquid once distilled. The aging process develops the amber tones, although some brands of tequilas add in sugars and caramel color to enhance the hue.
The 5 Tequila Classifications
According to the incredibly informative tequila.net, the two main sources of tequila are 100 percent Blue Agave and Tequila Mixto (mixed). Reading the label on the bottle of tequila will help you understand the difference.
Tequila Silver (also known as Blanco, Plata, White or Platinum)
This is the blue agave spirit in its purest form. It is clear and typically un-aged, where the true flavors and the intensity of the agave are present, as well as the natural sweetness. It can be bottled directly after distillation or stored in stainless steel tanks to settle for up to four weeks. There are some blanco products that are aged for up to two months to provide a smoother or “suave” spirit.
Tequila Gold (also Known as Joven or Oro)
Gold tequila is typically a mixto, where colorants and flavorings have been added prior to bottling. These “young and adulterated” tequilas are less expensive and used in many bars and restaurants for “mixed drinks.” There are exceptions, however, as a “gold” or “joven” tequila can also be the result of blending a silver tequila with a reposado and/or añejo tequila while keeping the 100percent agave classification. Again, look at the labels and read them for all the classifications.
A reposado tequila is the first stage of “rested and aged.” They age the tequila in wood barrels or storage tanks for two months to 11 months. The spirit takes on a golden hue and the taste becomes a good balance between the agave and wood flavors. Many different types of wood barrels are used for aging, with the most common being American or French oak. The distillers age some tequila in used bourbon/whiskey, cognac, or wine barrels, and will inherit unique flavors from the previous spirit. Reposado tequilas are also referred to as “rested” and “aged.”
Tequila Extra Añejo (Ultra-aged)
A new classification added in the summer of 2006, labeling any tequila aged more than 3 years, as “extra añejo” or ultra-aged. Following the same rule as an “añejo,” the distillers must age the spirit in barrels or containers with a maximum capacity of 600 liters. With this extended amount of aging, the tequila becomes much darker, more of a mahogany color, and is so rich it becomes difficult to distinguish it from other quality aged spirits. After the aging process, the alcohol content must be diluted by adding distilled water. These extra añejos are extremely smooth and complex.
Summer Peach Margaritas
- 2 ripe large peaches, peeled, pits removed
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp fresh orange zest
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 cups margarita mix
- peach puree from above
- 4 oz silver tequila
- Fresh peach slices to decorate and rub the rim
Seasoned Salt Rim
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 1 lime zest
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Peel ripe peaches, slice and remove pits and add them to a small saucepot.
- Add ginger, orange zest, lime juice and sugar. Mix well and simmer over medium heat, covered, for 5-7 minutes.
- Pulse mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Cool completely.
- Combine margarita mix, tequila, peach schnapps and peach puree in a blender.
- Pulse a couple of times to blend.
- Rub rims of glasses with peach and dip each glass rim in salt.
- Fill glasses up with ice about half way and divide margarita mixture among the glasses.
- Garnish, kick your feet up and enjoy!