Drink Your Way Through Grilling Season With This Summer Smash
Aged spirits tend to get pushed to the back of the bar during the warmer months, making way for bright, peppery silver tequila-based margaritas and white rum mojitos. There's a misconception that you need light spirits to help you get through a hot day. But if that were true, every Southerner sipping a mint julep in August would be wrong. Still, if you're not feeling the bourbon, might I offer you a refreshing cocktail featuring aged cachaça instead?
If you're unfamiliar with this Brazilian spirit, go ahead and read our cachaça guide, and then scoot back over here. Aged cachaça's flavor might remind you of the funky nature of rhum agricole. The barrel-aging adds a hint of vanilla and oak, along with the spiced aroma one gets with aged rums. (Can't find aged cachaça in your neighborhood? An aged rum like Flor de Caña 12 Year works well in this drink, too.)
Stone fruit are on their way into season, but these sensitive delicacies can always be hit or miss. That nectarine sure looks good, but biting into it you realize that it hasn't reached its full, sweetened potential. The answer: throw it on the grill. You'll bring out the sweetness and caramelize the sugars a bit. Throw in some slices from your sad sack of limes, too.
Since the grill is already hot, I recommend adding a few cherries to the mix on their own skewer. Have you ever grilled cherries before? Do it once, and you'll likely be looking for excuses to try it again. The heat makes cherries burst into succulent smoky and deeply sweet bites; it's pretty amazing what a few minutes on the grill can do.
The nectarine flavor really sings in this drink, and the cherries add wonderful richness. One might think these fruits would be heading you toward the overly-sweet side. But the lime, once grilled, actually takes on a slightly savory essence that only gets more earthy with the addition of lemon thyme.
And, now that we've gotten you outside on that grill, and there's a little leftover space that's not dedicated to cocktail ingredients, you might as well put on a few burgers and hot dogs, too.