We're savoring the last days of summer with grilling and some killer cocktails. Combine the two and you've got a head start on an amazing happy hour this weekend.
The muddler is one of my favorite tools on the bar. No special instructions required for use; just insert and smash away. This tool can take pretty herbs, fruits and even vegetables, and make sure they release all their amazing flavors and aromas into the cocktail. Drinks that call for muddling usually translate to bold, vibrant flavors like you get with a freshly muddled, minty mojito.
In the case of this cocktail, you'll be muddling fresh-picked mint with some grilled pineapple. You may think grilled items are not something you crave in a cocktail, but grilling the pineapple gives it a candied caramel flavor that's perfectly suited to rum.
The key is not to char the pineapple, but to just achieve golden brown delicious coloring on your fruit. If the heat of your grill is too high you may end up with good grill marks, but beware letting them turn to black, will translate to bitter in your drink. Monitor your pineapple slices on the grill; it only takes about 3 minutes per side on medium high to high heat.
This is a pitcher pour, so push pause on work, call up your friends and get to the grill going. Grab your muddler and mint, and you're in for a dynamite happy hour in less than 10 minutes.
Grilled Pineapple Mojito
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch of fresh mint, about 1 1/2 tightly packed cups, washed and divided
6 (1/2-inch) slices of grilled pineapple, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (see Recipe Note)
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 1/2 cups light rum
1 liter club soda, chilled
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and half the mint. Simmer over medium high heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Strain and chill.
In a large pitcher, combine most of the pineapple, the rest of the mint and a splash of the lime juice. (Reserve 6 to 8 pieces of pineapple for garnish.) Muddle to release the aromas of the mint and smash the pineapple. Add the simple syrup, the rest of the lime juice, the rum and club soda and stir.
Pour into 6 to 8 ice-filled glasses and garnish each with a piece of grilled pineapple.
Grilled Pineapple: Grill the pineapple for 3 minutes per side over medium high to high heat, just until browned and caramelized
- It's a little time consuming to squeeze a cup of fresh lime juice but it's so worth it. Bottled lime juice has a chemical aftertaste that will take away from the fresh and bright flavors of your drink.
(Image credits: Maureen Petrosky)