Slurp up this grilled strawberry cocktail sweetened with a lime/thyme simple syrup. Summertime in a glass!
So last summer I had a little obsession. Unfortunately for my mid-section it wasn’t exercise (although I swear this summer will be different!). It was grilled fruit. And not just for dessert. Actually, I don’t think I ever served it for dessert, but instead grilled fruit was front and center in salads, appetizers, on top of chicken or fish and wait for it…in cocktails! I mean it just isn’t summer without a refreshing, cold drink with just the right amount of booze to make you feel all relaxed and right with the world. Am I right or am I right?
For me a cocktail is all about balance. I usually gravitate toward drinks that are more dry than sweet, with bright flavors from a squeeze of citrus. However, some drinks needs a pop of sweetness and maybe even a little heat. And this whole grilled fruit thing, well it’s a game changer in the cocktail world.
When fruit is cooked it breaks down the sugars and enhances or even changes the flavor and texture. Grilled peaches become sweet and jammy and watermelon reminds me of a vine-ripened tomato. And something magical happens with strawberries too. They become sweeter and their flavor deepens. They’re wonderful in a summer salad paired with a creamy cheese and bitter greens (recipe for another day soon) or yep, in a cocktail.
For today’s cocktail I’m pairing grilled strawberries with a lime/thyme simple syrup and vodka. The strawberry is the star here and I didn’t want to overpower it with a heavy liquor or too many flavors. The simple syrup is light, with pleasant herbaceous undertones and a much-needed burst of acidity from the lime. Throw it all in the blender with a handful of ice and you have summertime in a glass.
It’s reminiscent of a daiquiri, but really can’t be called that since there’s no rum in sight. And frankly the point isn’t what we’re calling it (take my uninspired title “Grilled Strawberry Cocktail”) but rather how it tastes going down. Or better yet, how it tastes while sitting outside, feet propped, tunes playing and the late afternoon sun warming your skin. Summer can’t get here soon enough. Cheers!
- 1 lb strawberries (plus a few for garnish)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- ¾ cup vodka
- 1/3 cup lime thyme simple syrup (recipe follows)
- ½ cup ice
- Squeeze of lime juice
- 2 limes, zested
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 sprigs of thyme
- *thyme sprigs and grilled strawberries for garnish
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat.
Allow to cool to room temperature, strain and then store in the refrigerator. (You will have extra syrup that can be reserved for a future use.)
Mix together the olive oil and sugar and toss with the strawberries.
Set your grill to med/high heat and skewer berries.
Grill, turning often, until strawberries are beginning to char on all sides. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, and then remove the hull, leaving a few intact for garnish.
Combine strawberries, vodka, simple syrup, ice and a squeeze of lime juice in a blender and pulse until pureed.
Pour and serve immediately, garnished with a grilled strawberry and thyme sprig.