The Griller’s Liqueurs

Post Liquori

The Home Made End Grilling Dinner Liqueurs

Raise your hand those of you who do not particularly like spicy food. Yes, those of you who are not used to eating foods above the “Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino” level. Well, I am one of you: I do not particularly like the way instead other people do, that intense feeling mixed between pleasure and growing pain, and so I usually keep far enough away. Despite this, I remember well an episode now a bit ‘dated, when in the city where I lived before getting married, a Mexican restaurant was opened. Before then to find a Mexican you had to go almost next Milan and I love Mexican (I know, I am a living contradiction)! Among the many things, I really like the Nachos, in all ways, covered with chili, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, anything. That restaurant served them by default topped with jalapeno rings (I am aware of making many of those may Americans call “Hot Heads” laugh). We started to go there on a regular basis, at least once a week and we started shyly to put some of them on a few bites every now and then. The fact is that we realized quickly that time after time we could eat more, until we got to finish them all. On that occasion I had the confirmation of something that I already knew: net of congenital predispositions, our body is able to adapt the threshold of its perceptions according to the frequency of the stress, a bit like a callus on the hand when using the same tool for a long time. The same thing happens for smoking. Have you ever had a guest at dinner who complained that it took two days to digest your Barbecue complaining about how the feeling of smoke “came back” while you were deliberately light with it and you did not even feel? Our body becomes accustomed to smoke and spicy.

Therefore, the tendency of us grillers to smoke any dish of the menu may seem now a little less obsessive. We like that feeling and we perceive it much less than what happens to you. The possibility then to be able to indulge with a thousand essences and consequently a thousand different sensations, make things worse. It’s like being in front of a gigantic buffet: have you tried that apple smoked thing? Do you like that other cherry smoked? Just because you have not yet tried that other one oak smoked! So here we are in what might seem to be excesses that add to the various themed dishes also aperitifs based on snacks like Smoked Almondssmoking cocktails or planking ones or again all meal long drinks based on grilled or smoke fruit. Realizing therefore to belong to the row of compulsive smokers to meet the commiserevole look of all the others, I asked myself what could be the best way to accompany with the smoke the last available course, that of liqueurs or as we use to say in jargon , the “coffee killers”.

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Finding an answer that really had a real meaning without making the addition of smoking a simple excuse was less obvious than it may seem. Potentially, in fact, you can smoke anything and make of it a liqueur by infusion, it’s easy. The experiences with the various homemade liquors with any alternative thought flavoring, tasted by many friends during the barbecue competitions of the last four years, taught me that it is not an easy matter. In fact, alcohol tends to extinguish many sensations and a volatile component as the aroma of the grill is complicated to preserve. So the risk of having a shit coming out is therefore tangible. Among the many and for various reasons, the following are the recipes that convinced me the most:

Smoked Ratafià

liquori ratafia
800 gr. of Black Cherries
1 Kg of Sugar
10 gr. of Coriander Seeds
400 ml. of Red Wine
300 ml of Alcohol 90°
2 Cloves
I must confess that this is my favorite. If you read the post about smoked cocktails, I mentioned how the smoking of whole cherries as a cocktail decoration was a surprising added value. Indeed it is amazing how cherries, even better black cherries, marry well with the notes of smoke and how they always manages to be balanced, never annoying. In a word: irresistible. Making a liqueur could not be any different but the natural consequence.

Smoke the cherries for an hour at medium temperature (about 80° C) with cherry wood and then let them rest in the fridge for half a day. Put them in a jar with wine, cloves and coriander seeds. Fix a gauze to the mouthpiece to prevent impurities from entering and soak for three weeks. Now filter the result repeatedly with a strainer until the suspended parts are completely removed. Add the alcohol and sugar, stirring carefully, bottle it and left to rest in a dark place for a further three weeks.  

Cold Smoked Allorin

liquore alloro
80 fresh Bay Leafs
800 gr. of Sugar
1 Lt. of Water
1 Lt. of Alcohol 90°
Representing the “cold smoked” category I certainly opt for this particular infusion of bay leaves, which I definitely prefer to the sweetest and most exploited limoncello. Inevitably re-proposing it in smoked version, however, trying to preserve the structure of the leaves as much as possible, thus choosing low-temperature smoking.

Cold smoke the bay leaves for six hours, using the essence you like best. I like the blend Axschlag Fruit Explosion  but also the Alder works well. Leave them in infusion for 40 days in a closed container in the dark. Then lightly caramelize the sugar in a pot with a few tablespoons of water until you get a delicate caramel, add the remaining part, stir and let it cool. Strain the alcohol, add it to the syrup, bottle it and leave to stand for a few weeks in the dark.


Grilled Limoncello

liquore limoncello
8-10 untreated Lemons (edible zest on the label)
700 gr. of Sugar
1 Lt. of Alcohol 95°
500 ml. of Mineral Water 
It is probably the most obvious but that for notoriety is also impossible not to include in this list. If you have tried at least once to make the grilled lemonade, you will already have discovered how the maillardization on the sugars of the citrus fruit marries beautifully with their natural acidity. It is therefore obvious that even obtaining a liqueur is a very valid option.

Cut the lemons in half and grill them face down on a cast iron plate heated to medium temperature, looking for a nice maillard but without obvious burns. With the help of a vegetable knife, cut off all the zests paying attention to try to minimize the white part where possible. Add them to the alcohol in a jar, close it and leave to macerate for a week in the dark during which the peel will transfer the color to the liquid part. Then squeeze the lemons, filter the juice with a strainer to make it clear and keep refrigerated in a bottle until the alcohol is ready. Add the lemon juice to the water and sugar and simmer on a gentle flame until completely melted. Filter the alcohol from the peel, add the syrup so created, bottled and let it stand in the dark. Limoncello is also consumable immediately but if you let it rest a few weeks improves.

Grilled and Cooked Wine

liquore vino cotto
4 Kg of Black Grape 
In the “grilled” category, it contrasts with Limoncello: a decidedly less banal recipe that obviously has nothing to do with liqueurs. Yet served fresh as a meal has absolutely its own meaning. The grapes are, moreover, together with the cherries already mentioned for the Ratafià, a fruit that lends itself very well to being smoked as the “bon bon” of the evening, but in the boiling procedure it would lose a lot of its aromaticity. Better to grill the grapes then.

Cut the grape berries in half and grill them face down on a cast iron plate heated at medium temperature. Then squish them with a tomato sauce grinder. Strain the juice and bring it to a slow boil in a  high edge saucepan until it is reduced by a third. It’s a slow process, it will take a few hours. The true recipe of the Marche Cooked Wine would require the rest for a year in small barrels. If you are equipped in this sense try this experience but it works well even if only bottled and left to rest for a couple of months in the dark. Serve it fresh and not frozen of course.

Now you are finally ready to continue your training in the habit of smoky character even in liquor at the end of the dinner and to join us obsessive griller in search of the perfect smoking throughout the meal.

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