I was preparing kebabs for the grill when the idea came to me. We love grilled fruits, but one fruit I had never grilled were cherries. I’m sure it’s been done before, but the idea was new to me. It was also pretty exciting because I adore cherries. Blueberries have always been my favorite fruit, but these days cherries are neck and neck for first place.
Considering a few grilled cherries led me to wondering what kind of smoky sweet flavors that grilling would add to them. No surprise that those thoughts led to our home bar and the bottle of smoky mezcal that I’ve found to be a challenging ingredient to incorporate into our drinks. If there is one thing that it had to go well with the spirit, I figured grilled cherries would be it.
So I slid some pitted sweet cherries on a few skewers and placed them on the grill for about 5 minutes. They brightened up beautifully with just a few appealing blackened spots.
Eaten straight off the grill, they were wonderful. I could definitely pile a couple, or ten, on top of some vanilla ice cream. But they were so juicy and sweet that I couldn’t stop thinking about that mezcal cocktail idea.
So I mulled the cherries to extract all the tasty juices. Lemon juice seemed like a good idea to add some acidity, but once the mezcal was in, it needed two things — a little sweetening up and a bite of something on the savory side. A splash of agave nectar seemed logical as a sweetener, but I added a little Cointreau to the mix, too. I finally decided on basil for the savory note. The aroma and flavor it added ended up a winner.
Even with the deep smoky flavors of this cocktail, it’s bright and refreshing. Perfect for a hot summer night.
- 12 pitted sweet cherries
- 1 large basil leave, torn
- 1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 3 oz. mezcal
- 1 oz. Cointreau
- 1/4 oz. agave nectar
- Crushed ice
- Slide 6 cherries onto each of two presoaked wooden skewers or metal grilling skewers. Grill at about 400 degrees F for 5 minutes, turning once while they cook. Remove from the grill and allow to cool.
- Place 10 of the cherries, the basil leaf and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and mull together until the cherries are smashed and the juice is extracted.
- Add the mezcal, Cointreau and agave and stir. Add a handful of ice and stir well for 15 to 20 seconds, until chilled.
- Fill two 7 oz. cocktail glasses with crushed ice. Strain the cocktail into the two glasses. Garnish each with a grilled cherry and serve.