It’s no secret that the espresso martini is having quite the renaissance. The silky, bold combo of vodka, espresso and coffee liqueur is just as popular today as it was back in the ’80s. Its resurgence has piqued interest in other decadent twists on booze—most notably, peanut butter whiskey. We asked Steven Yeng, founder of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, for his thoughts on his invention’s rise to fame, plus a few of his favorite recipes to make with it.
Peanut Butter Whiskey Is Trending—Here’s Everything You Need to Know, Plus a Few Epic Cocktails
How Peanut Butter Whiskey Came To Be
In the ’60s and ’70s, a whiskey and peanut butter-based dessert liqueur called Peanut Lolita was being produced in Pennsylvania. Its popularity waned quickly (despite President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy publicly touting the product while inebriated with the brand’s spokesmodel), and the flavor combo didn’t really show up again until a few years ago, when Skrewball hit the scene in 2018.
There are a number of peanut butter-flavored whiskeys out there today—Skatterbrain, Sheep Dog, Ballotin, Ole Smoky, PB&W, SQRRL, Shepherd’s P’Nutty and Hard Truth, to name a few—but Skrewball arguably started it all. Yeng got the idea after he came to the United States and tried peanut butter for the first time.
“After spending six years in a refugee camp where food [was] scarce, the taste of peanut butter after I arrived in America was like the taste of freedom,” he explains. “It blends sweet and savory with a creamy texture into something I had never tasted before…When I opened a whiskey bar, it only made sense to combine the two to create a signature cocktail. That cocktail was such a hit, I knew I had to bottle it up and share it with the world.”
What Does Peanut Butter Whiskey Taste Like?
Peanut butter and whiskey may sound like a strange pairing at first, but Yeng doesn’t see it that way: “We see peanut butter as a comfort flavor that many people grew up loving rather than a trend.” That’s right: This grown-up spirit tastes like straight-up nostalgia to anyone who grew up on the condiment.
Some purists may turn up their noses at peanut butter whiskey, but we think there’s something to be said for the nutty mashup. Most whiskeys already boast notes of caramel, vanilla and toasted nuts, thanks to the white oak barrels they’re made in. Peanut butter whiskey is typically on the sweet side in flavor and thick in texture with notes of vanilla, butterscotch and, of course, peanuts. (Skrewball is made with real peanuts; not all peanut butter-flavored whiskeys are.)
Some imbibers argue that peanut butter whiskey is closer to a digestif or liqueur than real whiskey, being that its flavor is so sweet and the texture so rich and almost sticky. Others adore its savory, buttery flavor, saying its taste is akin to caramel popcorn.
How to Make Peanut Butter Whiskey Cocktails
If you can’t find peanut butter-flavored whiskey near you, you can combine plain whiskey and peanut butter to create a similar libation. Some bartenders infuse the spirit with roasted peanuts or premade peanut butter ahead of making a cocktail, while others shake the peanut butter right into the drink. But you’ll find that those methods are hands-down messier and less consistent than using premade peanut butter-infused whiskey. In fact, Skrewball exists because bartenders were sick of trying to manually mix PB with other ingredients.
“I have traveled across the country talking to bartenders, and I get the same feedback: It is impossible to create something that tastes like peanut butter without adding scoops of peanut butter and destroying the mixability of the flavors,” explains Yeng. “We created Skrewball with a peanut butter flavor that does not overpower the whiskey and other flavors, so that we can enjoy balanced new cocktails.”
No matter the route you choose, peanut butter whiskey’s unique flavor can be applied to a slew of classic cocktails. There are recipes out there for a peanut butter white Russian, peanut butter whiskey hot chocolate, peanut butter whiskey cider and even a peanut butter old fashioned (but more on that later).
In terms of basic mixers, peanut butter whiskey works well with acidic, bubbly and bitter ingredients that cut through its intense sweetness, like cranberry juice, seltzer or coffee. “We also like to [coat] half a shot glass with Maldon’s sea salt for a smooth, nutty shot,” suggests Yeng. (We’re betting a dash of Chambord in that shot couldn’t hurt—think a liquid PB&J.) You could also pour a shot over vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of peanut butter sauce…just sayin’.
4 Peanut Butter Whiskey Cocktail Recipes
Here are four inventive recipes from Skrewball to get you started. Feel free to substitute any brand you can find, or experiment with a homemade infusion, if you’d prefer.
1. Peanut Butter Espresso Martini
Two libations of the moment, one glass. Use hot coffee if you don’t have fresh espresso handy.
- 1½ ounces Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- ½ ounce coffee liqueur
- 1½ ounces freshly brewed espresso
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the ingredients and shake vigorously.
- Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with three espresso beans.
2. Sour Skrew
You’ve never had a New York sour like *this* before. Don’t cut corners with bottled citrus juice; in this case, squeezing it by hand makes all the difference.
- 2 ounces Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- Red wine (go for something fruity and dry, like Malbec or Grenache)
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all the ingredients but the wine and shake vigorously.
- Serve the drink straight up by straining it into a chilled glass with no ice, or on the rocks by straining it into a glass filled with ice.
- Slowly pour the red wine over the back of a bar spoon so it floats on top of the drink.
3. New Fashioned
This twist on an old fashioned uses two types of whiskey, so the sweetness of the Skrewball doesn’t take away from the drink’s potency. Muddle a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry in the glass with half a bar spoon of sugar before mixing the drink if that’s how you usually have it.
- 1½ ounces Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- ¾ ounce rye whiskey
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass without ice.
- Pour into a rocks glass with one large ice cube and gently stir. Garnish with a cherry and orange twist.
4. The Skrew-dolph
In case you’re still looking for the perfect cocktail to serve at your holiday party, boozy hot cocoa never fails.
- 1¾ ounces Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- ¼ ounce peppermint schnapps
- 4½ ounces prepared hot chocolate
- Combine the ingredients in a mug and stir. Garnish with whipped cream and/or marshmallows.