Grilled-Rambutan Cocktail Recipe

Photograph: Elana Lepkowski

Why This Recipe Works

  • As long as your grill is already on, put it to good use for this drink. A quick moment over high heat makes rambutans taste rich and caramelized.
  • A pinch of smoked salt ties in nicely to the grilled fruit flavor.

This sweet-tart rambutan cocktail, made with blanco tequila, is a perfect summer escape. Spiky red rambutans can be found fresh at some Asian markets, but you can also use already-peeled canned rambutans.

Recipe Details

Grilled-Rambutan Cocktail Recipe

Active 10 mins
Total 2 hrs
Serves 4 servings


  • 12 rambutans, peeled and seed removed if fresh (canned rambutans come ready to eat)
  • 6 ounces blanco tequila
  • 2 ounces fresh juice from 1 white grapefruit
  • 2 ounces fresh juice from 2 limes
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (see note)
  • Smoked sea salt and lime juice for rimming


  1. If using the grill: Soak 3 wooden skewers in water for at least 1 hour. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place 4 rambutans on each skewer, and grill over high heat until char lines appear and fruit has softened slightly but still holds its shape, about 1 minute per side. Let cool and remove from skewers until ready to use.

  2. If using the broiler: Adjust rack to 4 inches below broiler element and preheat broiler to high. Place rambutans on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil until softened and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes total. Let cool and remove from skewers.

  3. In the bottom of a small pitcher, muddle the rambutans to release juices and break up the fruit. Add tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Cover and chill for at least an hour up to overnight.

  4. To serve, add lime juice to a saucer and smoked salt to another. Dip the side of 4 rocks glasses in lime juice and then gently roll the outside edge in smoked salt. Add ice to each glass and strain the cocktail, dividing equally among the glasses.

Special equipment

grill, skewers


To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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