This weekend marks the beginning of summer. Pools open up, the temperature is creeping up, and people all over the country are taking out their grills and firing them up. For me, the 2012 grilling season began on January 1st, but this is the time of year when I get a little more experimental in my backyard. Also, it’s the time of year when I get drunk in my backyard. I thought I might be able to find a way to combine my desire to get drunk and to grill into one grand activity (and I don’t mean just pounding Zimas as I flip burgers).
I found an amazing blog with grilled cocktails and thought I would give a couple of them a try. I started with a grilled lemonade recipe that blew me away. There was less smoke in the final product than I expected, but the lemonade definitely had a different and exquisite taste. The recipe calls for cutting the lemons in half and then dipping them in sugar. I used Sugar in the Raw (turbinado sugar) and once the lemons met the grill grates they made my whole backyard smell like the County Fair. I also cut some of the lemons into wedges, covered them in sugar and grilled them up for garnish.
What really sets this cocktail off was the rosemary simple syrup: one part water, one part sugar, one part agave nectar and a couple sprigs of rosemary become a perfect compliment to the grilled tartness of the lemonade. The original recipe called for reducing the syrup on the grill but I just used a stovetop. I added approximately 3/4 of a cup of the syrup to the lemonade and then allowed people to adjust their own levels of tartness and sweetness — it’s one of those personal taste preference things.
I used Knob Creek and Maker’s Mark and found them to both be perfectly acceptable boozes for the drink. The drink tastes like an amateur version of the amazing cocktails being whipped up around the city in places like Manifesto and others, but ends up being an incredibly fun process from start to finish.
The recipe I used:
Grilled Lemonade Cocktail (makes about 10 cocktails)gr
4 pounds of lemons, halved, dipped in turbinado sugar, and grilled until blackened (about 8 minutes), then chilled
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of light agave nectar
2 rosemary sprigs (plus more for garnish if you so desire)
Bourbon (to taste)
1. Once the grilled lemons have cooled squeeze them into a fine-mesh sieve.
2. Combine the water, sugar, and syrup and bring to a simmer. Add the rosemary and allow the rosemary to infuse. Chill.
3. Pour half of the rosemary syrup into the lemonade along with about a cup of ice and stir.
4. To assemble cocktail, fill a glass with ice, add a shot of bourbon, fill with lemonade and stir. Add more rosemary syrup to taste. Garnish with a grilled lemon wedge and/or rosemary sprig.
6. Make another.