One of the delights of a bright, sunny summer is barbecue. I have recently thrown myself into experimenting with the medium, looking past the obvious veggie burgers and halloumi kebabs. This weekend that experimentation took me into the world of barbecued cocktails – using components prepared on the barbecue to add an interesting summer twist to your favourite boozy combinations.
After trying various different kinds of fruit, I can report that some work better than others. Choose sturdier fruits that have the fibre and low water content to stand up to the heat and stress of the grill. High sugar fruits like pineapple also caramelise beautifully. Citrus is a good choice, as are slightly firm stone fruits such peaches and nectarines. If you don’t have access to a barbecue, a griddle pan can be substituted – the char will be very similar, but the smokiness will be a little lighter.
And while you’re firing up the barbecue (or the griddle), consider getting the smoker going. You can hot-smoke over the barbecue, but the high heat makes it unsuitable for many ingredients and applications. Instead I use a dedicated cold-smoker – it’s easy to store, very little trouble to use and the results are exciting! You can even use a smoker inside, should you be reading this from a small city flat with no outdoor space. It generates a tiny amount of smoke, which is how the temperature stays low enough to cure delicate foods. The flat may smell a touch smoky, but that is a small price to pay.
To employ this technique for cocktails, one option is to smoke whole fruit. I recall a particularly memorable cocktail that included whole, cold-smoked citrus – that brooding, smoky lime margarita is not easily forgotten.
But the smoking techniques I describe in this guide can be used no matter what the ingredients of the cocktail, whenever you think that some smokiness will enhance the drink. By smoking either the glass or the ice cubes used to make the drink (or both) you can bring this extra layer of aroma and flavour to all your favourite recipes.