In his mind, Dom is a drinker. A man who approaches his bar when the day is done and considers many fine bottles of liquor before selecting one. With it, locally grown ingredients and impossibly hip, vintage barware, he creates a cocktail that both excites and calms him. He sips it slowly, steadily, letting the sound of artisan ice cubes clinking together punctuate his day.
In reality, Dom sinks into our dog hair-covered couch every night after we get our son to bed and works on The MMQB or this fine website while watching the Dodgers or terrible TV like MTV’s The Challenge. I make two cups of decaf green tea, bring Dom one, and have to remind him to drink it before it gets cold.
Many things mix well with alcohol, but late-night productivity is not one of them.
Thinking the actual presence of alcohol in our house would help turn him into the (shorter, infinitely less wealthy) version of Don Draper he wants to be, I put a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon in Dom’s Easter basket. Two months later I found it behind a box of Cheerios in the pantry, its seal still sadly intact.
Time to make grilled lemonade cocktails.
You name it, Dom wants to grill it—he’d sell the dryer and grill our laundry if his Weber had enough grate space. So turning eight halved, sugar-dipped lemons into caramelized cages of honey-brown juice thrills him to no end. (I was less thrilled to be the one squeezing the juice out of said lemons to the point of arthritis—but he did, after all, create fire.)
What elevates this grilled lemonade is the addition of homemade rosemary simple syrup, herby and thick. It takes just a few minutes to let rosemary stalks steep in boiled sugar water, and it makes the difference between a well-balanced adult beverage and the drink kids sell for a dollar in Dixie cups.
After all the grilling, squeezing and boiling, the bourbon finally made its way out from behind the cereal, into the glass and down Dom’s throat. He stood there with his eyes closed for few seconds, then opened them and said the eight words I knew were coming: “Why don’t we do this all the time?”
Grilled Lemonade Cocktails
Adapted from Southern Living
- 8 lemons
- 1 + ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 stalks rosemary, cut in half
- Cut the lemons in half and dip the exposed flesh of each in sugar. Place each lemon, sugar side down, on a hot grill for 10 minutes or until you see them begin to caramelize. Let cool.
- Mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a pot and bring it to a slow boil on the stove. When it’s become a syrup, add the rosemary, turn the heat to low and let steep at least 10 minutes. You can also do this in a pan on the grill.
- Squeeze the juice out of the lemons and add it to the rosemary simple syrup. Dilute to taste with water and/or ice and add as much damn bourbon as you want.
Photos by Dominic and Danny Bonvissuto