Grill Your Cocktails For Extra Smoky Flavor

It’s a lot of fun to have friends around the grill while you're grilling appetizers like chicken wings or stuffed jalapeño peppers. But imagine taking it one step further by gathering your friends around the grill and grilling some cocktails. Yes, you read that right, grilled cocktails! First of all, don’t think that you will be pouring alcohol on the grill; I'm talking about grilling a key ingredient and then incorporating that ingredient into a cocktail. It’s a fun party idea that’s gaining a lot of traction.

The following grilled cocktail recipes include some grilled fruit and a grilled jalapeño pepper. The basic grilling plan for these is to cook over a medium heat until the item is slightly softened with some grill marks. This will incorporate a light smoky flavor. If you are using a charcoal grill with a charcoal chimney, you will need to light about half of a charcoal chimney and, when lit, dump it out on one side of the grill. This is where you will grill. The other area is just in case the heat gets too high and you need a place to not burn things. On a gas grill, just turn the burners on to medium heat. You’ll cook the ingredients until they have a nice char. Not too black, but just enough to show some grill marks and to soften them a bit. The natural sugars of fruit caramelize when exposed to heat, creating a crispy exterior. While your cocktail ingredient cooks, the interior softens and the fruit’s sweet flavor is enhanced. Grilling an ingredient as garnish is also great to do, as the grilled fruit looks awesome on the side of the cocktail glass!

The recipes below all include an ingredient known as “simple syrup.” It’s a basic mixture of sugar and water that is used to sweeten cocktails. If you add sugar to a drink you can get a grainy texture when you drink it, but when you add sugar syrup, all you get is pure, smooth sweetness. Measure 2 cups of water into a microwavable container and microwave it until it is boiling. The time will depend on the power of your microwave. Once the water is boiling (be careful!), add one cup of sugar to the mix and slowly stir. Microwave for another minute. Then add one more cup of sugar and stir. Microwave for another minute until the sugar is completely dissolved into the solution. If there is any sugar that has collected at the bottom of the container, just stir and microwave for another 30 seconds.

Repeat as needed to get the sugar into the solution. Let this solution cool and store in the refrigerator until ready for use.

How To Make Simple Syrup

Grilled Vodka Lemonade

Lemonade is the classic summertime drink – cool and refreshing. But when you add a hint of smoke, it becomes absolutely incredible! Grab six fresh lemons and slice them in half. Cut an extra lemon into smaller slices, for garnish. Sprinkle some sugar on the lemons and grill over medium heat as described above. After a few minutes, the lemons should be nicely charred. Squeeze the halved lemons into a strainer positioned over a pitcher and let the smoky lemon juice accumulate. Save the sliced grilled lemons for garnish. Add 2 cups of simple syrup to the lemon juice. Add 2 cups of cold filtered water to the pitcher, and then add 1½ cups of top-shelf vodka. Add ice cubes until the lemonade is completely chilled and then serve. The pitcher should have enough for about six servings.

Grilled Vodka Lemonade

Grilled Jalapeño Margarita

Margaritas are the classic Mexican cocktail. And what flavor is more Mexican than jalapeños? This combination goes great with any Mexican meal, such as quesadillas or tacos. Before you head to the grill, lightly wet the rim of some glasses with a lime wedge and place them rim-side-down on a plate coated with coarse salt. Turn the glasses over and set them aside. Lightly coat three jalapeño peppers with oil and grill as described above until the outsides are nicely roasted and the peppers become slightly tender. Remove the peppers from the grill and head inside. Slice the pepper crosswise into about 1/8-inch-thick sections. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add about 3 sliced jalapeños, 3 ounces of top-shelf tequila, 2 ounces of lime juice, 1 ounce of simple syrup, and 1 ounce of Cointreau, or triple sec. Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously and then pour into a glass with a salted rim.

Grilled Jalapeno Margarita

Grilled Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Who doesn’t love a good whiskey sour? Well, this one is a little bit different, as the sourness comes from a smoky, citrus orange flavor. This combination of flavors works really well. For this recipe, one orange will make one cocktail, so plan accordingly. Cut the blood oranges in half and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Take one extra blood orange and slice thin, for a garnish. Wet the rims of a few glasses and turn the glasses over on a plate full of sugar. Turn the glasses over and set aside. Grill the halved oranges and sliced oranges as discussed above until they are charred with the skin side up. Squeeze the juice from two grilled orange halves into a cocktail shaker full of ice. Add 1½ ounces of top-shelf whiskey, ½ ounce of simple syrup, ½ ounce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, one maraschino cherry, and 1 teaspoon of maraschino cherry juice (from the jar). Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously and pour into a glass lined with sugar and garnish.

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

Grilled Pineapple Frozen Daiquiri

For this grilled cocktail recipe we are going to need a blender to create that amazing summertime frozen daiquiri consistency. The flavor here will be dominated by grilled pineapple! Remove the skin from one whole pineapple and slice into large circular slices. Lightly brush with oil and grill over medium heat as described above. After the pineapple slices are nicely charred on both sides, bring them inside and set up the blender. Add about 3 cups of pineapple to the blender (should be the whole sliced pineapple), plus ½ cup of simple syrup, 2 cups of ice, 1 cup of rum, and 4 ounces of lime juice. Save a few of the smaller slices of pineapple for a garnish. Blend until the mixture is smooth and luxurious. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with a slice of grilled pineapple (about six servings).

Grilled Pineapple Frozen Daiquiri

These recipes are not only unique but also a lot of fun to make. They can be the focus of a summertime happy hour, with all of your friends watching you grill the key ingredient of their cocktail! Pair one of these cocktails with a nice grilled appetizer and you'll have a party your friends will never forget.

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