Grilled Lemonade Whiskey Sour with Rosemary Honey Syrup, perfect for the fall

I know.  I know what you’re thinking.  Grilled lemonade?  It’s fall!  Grilling is for summer.  What are you doing? Go home, Whiskey Pam, you’re drunk.

It’s all true.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t really like to be outside in the summer that much, unless I’m sitting on a beach or floating in a pool.  I don’t like mosquitos.  And I don’t like to sweat unless I’m working out.

I like to be outside in the fall.  Fall is the season for grilling in my mind.

Not that I grill.  I don’t.  I cook.  Grilling is the one form of cooking I generally leave to the menfolk.  I like to know exact temperatures, set timers, have predictable results.  I like baking.  Grilling is the opposite of baking.  I love to eat grilled things, but my cooking process isn’t really compatible with a grill.

Still, grilled lemonade plus whiskey.  It had to happen.

This article is actually inspired by Warren Bobrow, the cocktail whisperer. He posted something in his facebook feed, some amazing-looking cocktail with grilled citrus… I want to say grilled grapefruit??  It was a while ago.  In the summer.  Because he follows the seasons like a normal writer.

Grilled lemons with rosemary. You totally want to bury your face in this plate. The smell… oh yes… it’s face burying good.

Someone commented on the photo (I’m paraphrasing): Is there anyone who still isn’t doing this?

I refrained from admitting that no, I still wasn’t doing this.  I still wasn’t grilling citrus and putting it in my drinks.  Until now.

Oh, side note, Warren has a new book coming out pretty much any minute:  Whiskey Cocktails.  It’s available for pre-order now, and should be out within a month or so.  It’s on my short to-be-read list and I’m sure some of his magical concoctions will make their way to this blog.  But if you like cocktails and whiskey, it’s definitely one to check out.

Anyway, where was I?  Right.  Grilled citrus.  In my glass.  Stop side noting, Pam. Focus.  Write about the cocktail.

Here’s what happened.  Inspired by Warren, I decided I wanted to make a grilled lemonade whiskey sour.  I happened to be at my parents’ lake house with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend, so I suggested we try it together.  I come from a family of (mostly) foody types, so we love to get together and cook, and eat… and drink.  It was perfect.

My brother’s girlfriend found a recipe for a grilled lemonade whiskey sour with rosemary simple syrup.  We got all of the ingredients.

And then we didn’t make it.

I forget why.

Maybe my parents only had a charcoal grill and we were too lazy?  Maybe we had too many Bloody Caesars in the daytime and decided to just go with straight whiskey at night?  I forget.  There tends to be a slight blurring when I hang out with my family.

I’m still not telling you about the cocktail.  What is wrong with me?

OK, the drink.

Grilled lemonade whiskey sour with rosemary honey syrup

drink(makes 4-5 servings)

  • 8 lemons
  • sugar for dipping lemons
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 cups bourbon

Cut lemons in half and dip the cut halves in sugar.  Grill over medium-high heat until caramelized and gorgeous, 5-10 minutes.

In a saucepan on the stovetop or in a foil pan on the grill, combine honey and water.  Add rosemary sprigs and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for a few minutes until honey is completely incorporated, and flavors combine.

When lemons are done, squeeze by hand, and strain resulting juice to remove pulp and seeds.  If you want impressive and lovely grilled lemon garnishes, cut those off before squeezing.

My 8 lemons resulted in about a cup of juice.

This is the hard part.  Let lemon juice and rosemary honey syrup cool.  Or if you’re me, put them in the refrigerator for five minutes, decide that’s long enough, and make your cocktail with warm ingredients which will melt the ice faster but then you get to drink it sooner.

For each glass, combine  a 1.5 oz. shot of lemon juice and an equal part rosemary honey syrup.  And then… how much bourbon?  Well, a shot if it’s for someone who doesn’t like alcohol that much.  A shot and a half for a normal person.  Two shots if you’re making it for me.

(Don’t judge.  Two shots makes it equal parts bourbon and lemonade, which is totally not crazy.)

Pour over ice and garnish with grilled lemon slice and/or rosemary sprig if you wish.

This is a really delicious drink.  The rosemary comes forward beautifully with the citrus oil. The smokiness of the grilled citrus was pretty subtle in my gas-grilled concoction, but would probably be more pronounced over charcoal.  But even over gas, grilling adds a depth to the citrus that is absolutely worth doing.

If you’re a whiskey sour person, this is the whiskey sour you want in your mouth (and nose).  It’s gorgeous and spectacularly aromatic, with the floral honey playing against the botanical rosemary, tart lemon, and smoke.

If a grill is available, I will probably never make a fresh-squeezed citrus cocktail again without grilling the citrus.  And I’m kind of afraid of the grill.  So that’s a strong endorsement.

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