From Grill to Glass

Gin Lemonade at Kapnos

Gin Lemonade at Kapnos

The grill isn’t just for burgers and dogs. Next time the fire is blazing, make some room on the grates for cocktail ingredients.

Bartenders from around the country are now grilling fruit for their drinks offerings. A quick turn on the grill helps caramelize sugar and add smokiness, making these drinks the perfect pairing for grilled foods.

At Greek newcomer Kapnos from Mike Isabella, Beverage Director Taha Ismail grills lemons for the restaurant’s snappy Gin Lemonade (recipe below), a subtly sweet combination that’s served by the glass or pitcher, and punched up with honey syrup and Indonesian Batavia Arrack. Limes get a similar turn on the grill at Brooklyn’s new The Elm from Paul Liebrandt. Mixologist Johnny Swet serves a Charred Lime Mojito, with the caramelized citrus balancing eight-year Barbancourt rum, agave and mint.

Tropical fruits also do well on the grill. At La Condesa in Austin, El Cúbico pairs tobacco-infused tequila and vanilla-infused brandy with mescal essence and grilled pineapple juice with a saffron-salt rim. At Lucy in Napa’s Bardessono, mixologist Brady Wilkens shakes the tropical 3 Kings, using gin, ginger, lime, vanilla and pineapple, with a grilled pineapple as garnish. Beverage Director Olivier Flosse grills peaches at A Voce in New York City to garnish the peach-packed Pesche Mediterranea, made with peach-infused whiskey, peach schnapps and nectar.

Durable fruit, like peaches, pineapples, citrus (with rinds on) and apples are the best places to start. From there, it’s simply a matter of your personal taste, liquor assortment and time at the grill.

Now go get fired up.

Gin Lemonade
Makes one cocktail

  • 1 ½ ounces gin (preferably Plymouth)
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • ¾ ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
  • ¼ ounce Batavia Arrack
  • Ice


  1. Grill half of the lemon over low heat for 15 minutes, until char marks appear.
  2. Add ¾ ounce of juice from the grilled citrus to a shaker, along with ¼ ounce fresh lemon juice, gin, honey syrup and Batavia Arrack. Add ice, shake and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with a slice from the grilled lemon.