Grilling season is officially upon us. Whether you’re cooking up burgers, brats, steaks or veggies, you’re probably going to want a drink in your hand. You might even want to be a good host and prepare something for your guests. Beer and a hot grill requires no explanation, but what if you want a cocktail? Integrating grilled elements into your cocktails is easier than you think, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Here are the best grilled cocktails to make this summer.


Grilled Summer Smash

Cachaça is a distilled spirit made of fermented sugarcane juice that is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Brazil, but it’s also a fantastic cocktail liquor, useful for more than the always delicious caipirinha. Why opt for the Grilled Summer Smash over the caipirinha other than for a little variety? With hints of vanilla, oak and spice, the cachaça makes a perfect base for a smash style grilled cocktail. Throw in some thyme, cherries, lime and nectarine cooked to perfection on the grill and you have a drink your friends will be begging for more of… if you don’t drink all of them first.


Grilled Pineapple Margarita

In the pantheon of summer cocktails, few are as revered as the margarita. It has a short ingredient list. It’s infinitely customizable. It can be enjoyed year-round. Most importantly, everyone loves margaritas. Everyone’s favorite tequila drink also makes a great base for one of the best grilled cocktails with the addition of some roasted pineapple and mezcal. The Grilled Pineapple Margarita adds different levels of smoke, spice and richness to create a cocktail that’s familiar while still being new and interesting.


Grilled Lemonade

Lemonade is as much of a summer icon as charcoal grills, beach trips and Don Henley covers. Turns out upping your homemade lemonade game is as simple as throwing some of the citrus on the grill to intensify the flavors with some helpful browning. Make a batch as is for the kids and teetotalers at the cookout and then add in some vodka, whiskey or rum for a spiked lemonade of different varieties. Just don’t let the refreshing nature of lemonade fool you into thinking that this won’t mess you up if you suck down too many.


Smoky Grapefruit Gin and Tonic

Gin is just flavored vodka. Gin tastes like Christmas trees. Gin is too herbal. To some, those are reasons not to drink gin. But those same herbal qualities and the variety of botanicals available in different types of gin is what makes the gin and tonic such a summer staple. Fire up the grill for some grapefruit slices and let the traditionally bitter fruit transform into an ingredient capable of upping the classic cocktail. This smoky grapefruit gin and tonic is one of those gin cocktails that’s so deliciously complex you’ll want to make it all the time.


Grilled Pineapple Mai Tai

This upgraded version of the Polynesian favorite has more depth because of the grilled citrus. It still packs as much of a kick as the Mai Tai you know and love, so be careful with the pitchers or else you’ll get caught with your pants down.


Grilled Pluot Cocktail

While we only consider ourselves passing fans of plums or apricots, the hybridized pluot is a deliciously sweet fruit that’s enjoyable whenever you can find it. But slice a few up and throw them on the grill to really open up the flavors and give them those delightful caramelized notes. If you don’t immediately eat all of them after trying the first one, they make a fantastic muddled cocktail with some vodka.


Grilled Arnold Palmer

Iced tea is delicious. Lemonade is delicious. Combining the two was a no-brainer, and the creation of the beverage is credited to famed American golfer Arnold Palmer. As fantastic and refreshing as the drink is on its own, it’s even better when it’s freshly made with some grilled lemons, honey and bourbon. You could make an argument for this being a Southern-Style John Daly, because of the fact that’s alcoholic, but the name really isn’t important when a drink is this tasty.


Grilled Peach Bellini

Grilling out early? Looking to start the day with something a little fruitier? Pacing yourself with something lighter on the alcohol content? Try this Italian brunch classic. Prosecco and peach puree or nectar make this an incredibly easy cocktail to make if you’re going traditional. Taking it to the next level with grilled fruit makes it a little more elaborate in the preparation department, but it also adds some extra depth of flavor with the freshly prepared puree made with grilled peaches and lemon.

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