Barbecues and booze

Barbecues and booze

By
Ben Tish
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 1 84949 715 2
Photographer
Kris Kirkham

It’s time to explore some of the many alternative ways to enjoy booze with a barbecue. It doesn’t have to be a beer-only affair, and there’s certainly no need for barbecues to be male-dominated drinking sanctuaries.

The sad stereotype of ‘Barbecue Man’ is etched into our psyches: with a T-shirt and striped apron stretched across his pot belly, his sunburnt arms hold tongs in one hand and a cold beer in the other. But it needn’t be like this. We like to enjoy cocktails and wines while grilling and barbecuing. And it’s great fun to use the barbecue and its cooking fuel (wood, smoke, charcoal) to create garnishes and infusions for cocktails, alcoholic or not.

Why not quickly chargrill citrus fruit peel to make a smoky, zesty garnish for a cocktail, G&T or otherwise? Or get adventurous and infuse your neglected (or perhaps not!) bottle of bourbon with some barbecue-smoked bacon rind, leave it to steep for a few days and then knock up a smoky, savoury twist on an Old Fashioned. If you’re cold-smoking, try putting a tray of water into the barbecue to smoke for an hour, before freezing it to create smoked ice – this works wonders in a Bloody Mary or Manhattan.

When cooking with hardwood, once it burns down to solid charcoal embers, carefully fish one out with long-handled tongs, set it aside to cool and use it to infuse spirits or liqueurs. Or drop a handful of twiggy herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano or marjoram) onto your hot grill for a few seconds and use them to infuse liquids or olive oil. Using a mortar and pestle, grind some good, single-species charcoal to a powder, ready for sprinkling over cocktails.

As for pairing wines, the basic rule of thumb is that fuller-bodied reds are more conducive to winter climes, larger cuts of red meat and game; in warmer months, lighter reds work better. So when barbecuing in the depths of winter, uncork a full-bodied red Rioja to accompany a large succulent grilled T-bone. In summer, lightly chill a medium-bodied red like Pinot Noir to accompany your red meat spread. When it comes to white wines, fuller-bodied and oak-aged varieties work well with full-flavoured, charred or smoked white meat and fish. Equally, light and zesty whites go down a treat with simply grilled fish, such as sardines with lemon and olive oil. If you’re on a splurge, and have got a lobster on the grill, open a crisp, smoky white with mineral notes – we especially like wines of this type from the Campania region of southern Italy.

The basic message here is that when it comes to booze and barbecues, the guidelines are just a guide. The real fun comes from experimenting – and demolishing that stereotype once and for all.

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