April 2nd. The day we all start hatching our vengeance plans for any and all shenanigans pulled on us on April 1st. But April 2nd (and maybe this is the universe’s way of apologizing for giving our idiot friends an “excuse” to put plastic wrap on the toilet seat yet again) is also National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day.
Chances are most folks will celebrate with an actual sandwich. (Crusts cut off? Not in my town.) But since peanut butter & jelly is clearly one of the most adored flavor combinations in human history, variations of the formula abound: there are PB&J cupcakes, PB&J cookies, PB&J doughnuts. And yes, if you’ve ever been deep into the flavored section of your local liquor store, you’ll know there’s such a thing as peanut butter & jelly…vodka.
Nor is that the only way we’ve corrupted a classic elementary school lunch with booze. In honor of National PB&J Day, here’s a roundup of a few ways you can translate this nostalgic childhood treat into a mild nostalgic buzz.
We don’t have a photo of this one but it’s gotta be mentioned, since it comes from the now shuttered modern gastronomy laboratory WD~50 (chef Wylie Dufresne, bartender Kevin Denton). Called “The New School,” the drink actually blended peanut butter sake (which we, for the life of us, can’t seem to find), white vermouth, and “a touch of raspberry,” yielding “the classic sandwich in a buzz inducing liquid form.”
Simply named, but fairly complex as far as drink assembly goes, maybe owing to the fact that it’s the brainchild of the Tippling Bros. cocktail consulting company. A combination of Flor de Cana 7 year rum and just a hint of rich complexity from Palo Cortado Lustau “Vides” sherry, with a straight-up scoop of jelly, egg white (don’t freak, it provides a lovely silkiness), and homemade peanut syrup. If you’re having a formal cocktail party to celebrate national PB&J Day, this would easily wow your guests.
The drink was named after the chef’s son’s favorite lunch. But unlike Pierce, whom we can imagine is adorably sticky with grape jelly after eating the sandwich, the cocktail he inspired is sleek and minimalist like Tilda Swinton, all the time. Seriously, looking at the drink, you could never tell it was inspired by something that tends to get served in a Harry Potter lunchbox. Grape-based pisco is somehow magically infused with peanut butter, and combined with a delicate white concord grape syrup, verjus (the sour juice of unripened grapes), and just a touch of dry vermouth. Sixth grade, meet your sophisticated makeover.
The use of the term “Martini” is a bit loose, or just entirely incorrect here. Unlike that venerable classic, here we have equal parts raspberry vodka, hazelnut liqueur, and grape juice. But however loose, or blatantly incorrect the association, this juicy, no doubt sweeter cocktail is kind of a nice variation on the PB&J theme, subbing in a toasty, nutty hazelnut flavor, which we hope can stand up to the heavier berry flavors at play. It’s an easy drink to make in batches, and the creation of none other than Sandra Lee. So there’s that.
OK, we had to include at least one cocktail featuring Van Gogh’s Peanut Butter & Jelly vodka. They’re kind of the first, and certainly the most ubiquitous PB&J spirit out there. Rather than take any of their official drinks, we wanted to see what the drinking public had to make of it. And The King doesn’t disappoint—finally, a cocktail lined with actual peanut butter and jelly. Sloppy looking, yes, but awesome just the same. A healthy dose of Van Gogh’s PB&J vodka with an ounce of banana liqueur (since some of us liked sliced bananas on our sandwiches) and, quite possibly the weirdest ingredient, a garnish of banana liqueur foam (which, if you own a homemade whipped cream canister, should be easy enough to make). Foam-free, we’re guessing this’ll still be pretty good.
The idea of combining bourbon with PB&J might seem like total sacrilege to some. OK, to most bourbon drinkers. But apparently there’s some logic to it (think of the sweet, slightly toasty notes of a good rich bourbon). Or so the folks at Aske Stephenson figured when they developed this pre-made, as in ready-to-go PB&J Old Fashioned. A bit pricey at $40 a bottle, but interesting, with a good amount of rye in the mash bill complimenting the fruitiness of the raspberry jam, and corn giving the peanut butter a little extra sweet roundness.
We’re not sure if the “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” thing applies here. Since, well, this little shot combines silver rum, raspberry and peanut butter liqueurs, and half and half. Based on our experience mixing cream with liquor (only the Dude can really get away with that many White Russians), this one might be better as a party starter, one per guest, and then move on to lighter fare. Then again, it is national PB&J Day, so maybe a little childish irresponsibility is just fine.