Chef’s love live fire for its alchemical ability to intensify flavor, caramelizing proteins and vegetables and investing them smoky, mouthwatering savoriness.
Now bartenders are taking a page out of the barbecue playbook, creating drinks that showcase ingredients fresh off the coals or wood fire. Here’s one of our favorites, courtesy of Ryan Nolan, beverage director at Pitchfork Pretty in Austin, Texas, which is perfect for a steamy spring or summer afternoon.
- 21⁄2 oz charred watermelon juice
- 1 3⁄4 oz mint-blended Hendrick’s gin
- 12 fresh mint leaves
1⁄8 oz gin-balsamic vinegar tincture
- 1⁄4 oz lemon juice
- 3⁄4 oz simple syrup
- Pinch of coarse sea salt
- Make the watermelon juice: Prepare grill for high heat. Slice watermelon into 2-inch-wide wheels, leaving rind on. Grill over direct heat, about 1 minute per side, until lightly charred. Remove rind, pulse in blender, and push through fine-mesh strainer. Set juice aside and let cool.
- Make the mint-blended gin: Rinse blender. Add mint and full bottle (750ml) of Hendrick’s gin. Blend 10-15 seconds, and strain through coffee filter. Set aside.
- Make vinegar tincture: Combine 1/2 oz balsamic vinegar and 1 oz blended gin.
- Mix the drink: Combine ingredients, shake, and strain over ice.