Warmer weather is approaching and backyard cooking is ramping up even more. One thing this means is that the deliciousness of a nice cold, refreshing drink while you’re cooking and eating gets even better. As you may have seen from some of our previous articles, there are plenty of ways to get creative with your smoker or grill when it comes to different foods and cuts of meat.
What about when it comes to drinks to go with your outdoor cooking? Sure, there are some great beers, wines, and bourbons to pair with barbecue. But, why not include some mixed drinks (with alcohol and non-alcoholic) in your smoking efforts?
Yes, it is possible to start some great drinks on the grill and impress your friends and family even more! Grilling or smoking some of the ingredients included can add delicious complexity to the drinks. You can add a savory wood-fire flavor that perfectly balances the sweetness of the other parts of the drink.
In this article, we’ve put together 10 options of delicious and refreshing grilled cocktails you can try out today:
This is a delicious wood-fired twist on the traditional Mexican tequila-based cocktail known as a Paloma, making for a refreshing drink that's perfect for warm weather and outdoor cooking. For this grilled fruit cocktail, the grapefruit and lime are cooked directly on the grates of your grill or smoker to caramelize the fruit and give it a subtle smoky bite. This cocktail is a mix of the juice from the smoked citrus, tequila or mezcal (if you want an even smokier flavor), and club soda.
For a delicious non-alcoholic option, check out this smoked grape lime rickey. This recipe from Traeger Grills starts by smoking the red grapes low and slow until they’re tender, then grilling slices of fresh limes directly on the hot grill grates. Mix the smoked fruit syrup/juice with lemon-lime soda for a unique and refreshing wood-fired drink.
If you do want to add alcohol to this, gin or vodka works well with these flavors.
The perfect cocktail is about balancing multiple flavors that all enhance and complement each other. That’s exactly what this grilled summer smash does. This cocktail uses grilled nectarines and cherries, giving the fruit a deeper, richer taste. This flavor goes perfectly with the muddle thyme and aged cachaça, a Brazilian spirit distilled from sugar cane juice.
Another delicious non-alcoholic option, this smoky twist on a classic is perfect for a refreshing beverage option for your barbecue gathering. For this drink, lemons are cut in half and dipped in sugar, then grilled directly on the grates cut side down until nicely browned. The juice is squeezed from that halves and mixed with rosemary and honey to create a delightfully intriguing flavor profile.
Source: Saveur / Eric Medsker
The margarita is undoubtedly an essential summertime drink. This margarita kicks it up a notch with a smoky/sweet element that makes it even more delicious. The grilled pineapple adds a rich layer of fruitiness while the mezcal gives the drink a veil of smokiness and spice. To increase the smoke and spice flavors even more, coat the rim of the glass with salt mixed with a dash of chile powder and coriander.
Creamy, yellow-skinned Champagne mangoes (also called Ataulfo or honey mangoes) are even more delicious when they are grilled and allowed to caramelize. In this cocktail recipe, the grilled mango is combined with two sources of smoky flavor: earthy mezcal and ancho chili peppers. This vibrant drink is then brightened with fresh lime. The flavors of the sweet mango, chili, and lime help to balance the flavor of the mezcal perfectly.
Some people will argue that whiskey is only a cold-weather drink. Personally, we think they’re missing out. Bourbon whiskey, with its touch of sweetness and hint of vanilla, actually pairs fantastically with summer fruit. For this grilled whiskey sour, peach halves are grilled to sweet and juicy perfection and combined with bourbon tart Jarritos tamarind soda.
Source: Photography by Maggie Shannon
This fun drink is another great mocktail that is great for both kids and adults. The complex flavors of grilled pineapple and hibiscus tea create a perfect flavor combination that is then mixed with pineapple soda. The lime and sugar-coated rim finishes off this deliciously refreshing drink. If you do want to add alcohol to this drink, tequila is going to be the best option to complement these flavors.
If you like Bloody Mary’s, check out this lighter, tomato-based cocktail with more elevated flavors. In this recipe, the deep, savory flavor of mezcal is boosted by the smoked Guajillo peppers, grilled tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Grilling the tomatoes helps to enhance their subtle sweetness. This drink goes great with steaks, brisket, burgers, and even a seafood boil.
If you’re looking for a drink that will make you think of sitting on the beach of a tropical island, check out this recipe. This Tiki Cocktail from Traeger Grills combines brandy, rum, peach liquor, lemon syrup, grilled pineapple, and grilled peaches. With this combination of flavors, touched with a hint of smoke, you’ll create a crazy good drink that’ll have you feeling like in you’re in paradise.
These are just a few of the different grilled cocktail and mocktail options out there. As you can see, there is a wide variety of flavors and ingredients, giving you plenty of choices when it comes to pairing drinks with the food you are cooking.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and change up ingredients in some of the drinks we’ve covered or even create your own entirely new concoctions.
Have you tried any of the cocktails in this article? Recently created your own grilled cocktail or mocktail? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!
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**Feature image from allrecipes.com