It’s pretty common to see some form of alcohol associated with grilling and smoking food. There are lots of opinions on which libation goes best with either smoked food or just with the act of standing over a grill with a pair of tongs in one hand and a drink in the other.
Instead of thinking of what drink I might have while grilling, I decided to think of what drink I can make ON the grill…
No, I didn’t pour whiskey on the grate to see what would happen. I thought of drinks I enjoy and how the grill or smoker might add to them. I came up with a few drinks that are worth a try, I think.
First, one of my favorite summer cocktails mixes caçhaca, a Brazilian liquor similar to rum but made with sugar cane, lime, cane sugar and ice. Obviously, the only ingredient there that works on the grill is the lime, so I cut a couple limes in half and put them on a hot grill, cut side down, just to caramelize the limes a bit. Then I quartered one of the halves and put about a teaspoon of cane sugar on it in an old fashioned glass and muddled the lime. I filled the glass with ice to the top, then topped with about 2 shots of caçacha. The grilled lime added a slight grilled flavor without overdoing it, and made a really nice grilled cocktail.
That’s a great starter for the grill, but I wanted to use the smoker for this exercise, too. I took some heirloom tomatoes and sliced them, then put the slides on foil and into the Big Green Egg at about 250 F, with some pecan wood. I just left the tomatoes on for about 15 minutes, mostly to soak up some smoke, not to really cook. I added a couple of slices to a basic Bloody Mary recipe:
- 1 1/2 ounces (1 jigger) vodka
- 6-8 ounces tomato juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (another use of the grilled limes!)
- Worcestershire sauce to taste
- Tabasco to taste
- 1 teaspoon horseradish (or more to taste)
- dash of barbecue rub
Stirring everything up gets that smokiness from the tomato slices throughout the drink, and adds a great flavor. For a bit of a different take, the garnish I used included grilled poblano chile and a grilled peppadew pepper, and the glass got a bit of barbecue rub around the rim. Another variation that could be done would be to take this Smoked Bloody Mary and make it a Smoked Bloody Larry by swapping the vodka with white whiskey instead (actually, my preferred way of doing it).
The drink that got me started on this is a variation of one I had at a barbecue restaurant in Cincy called SmoQ. It’s a great twist on typical bbq restaurants, offering traditional fare as well as fried chicken that’s smoked chicken that’s then fried, as well as other barbecue tweaks. They smoke canned peaches and add them to their iced tea. it’s a good drink, though I asked to have some good bourbon added to mine, and the drink got MUCH better! The one downside was that the smoked peaches offered a bit too much smoke here and there.
Instead of smoking, I used ripe South Carolina peaches, cut in half and put on a hot grill until they were a bit charred. I added a couple of slices to some iced tea, along with some Maker’s Mark bourbon, and garnished with another peach slice. This is a drink that every hot summer day needs to take the punch out of the heat! This is simply a tall glass of give-me-more delicious!
The last cocktail I put together isn’t grilled or smoked at all by me. Instead, I let masters at adding smokiness to drinks take control. Making a vodka martini usually takes a bit of vermouth, but, instead of vermouth, I used Laphroaig 10 year old whisky (Scotch). This is from Islay, and island know for the peatiest whiskies produced. I just rinse the glass a bit with the Laphroaig, then filled the glass with icy cold Teton Glacier vodka and, for garnish, I used bleu cheese stuffed olives, making a Smoky Bleu Martini. Yes, I know it’s not a “real” martini, but it is “real” good!
Have you combined any drinks and grilling? Let me know your ides on how to do more like this… I may just try it out!