Get yourself ready for the unofficial start of summer with these tips for grilling and imbibing.
You’re smart; you understand that summer goodies will soon go the way of the lightening bugs, and you’ve been building your backyard oasis for weeks. The 4-foot inflatable swimming pools disappear from stores (as if by legislation) as June peeps around the calendar’s corner, as do Slip ‘n’ Slides, bocce and badminton sets. Predictably, the cheap ‘n’ trusty Weber grills vanish, leaving only the highfalutin’, but less-desirable, gas ones at the hardware store. If you already have your kettle-shaped cooker, then it’s time to slather its cooking grate with elbow grease, or buy a new grill top, while you can. Forget easily finding replacement parts for a Weber in July.
My preference for Weber aligns with my preference for the taste of hardwood charcoal, such as Cowboy Charcoal, over the taste of re-rocked briquettes, such as Kingsford. Hardwood coals burn hotter and impart food with the kiss of a campfire rather than the chemical taste of the dry cleaners. Another foe to grilled food is lighter fluid. Use a paper towel soaked in olive oil instead of lighter fluid to start the coals and notice how your burgers taste. Better, No?
Having a difficult time keeping the fire burning? Hit it with a hair dryer. Determine the wind’s direction, stand upwind of the BBQ, and point the dryer at the coals. Caution: Sparks will shoot out of the grill like a RPG, and the neighbors will think you’re touched when they see the hair dryer. Offer them a drink (like the one below, perhaps), let them hold the dryer, and keep cooking.
This cocktail is named for the “birthplace” of Memorial Day, Waterloo, NY. It’s a concoction of Tangueray Rangpur (a limey gin), iced tea, and mint simple syrup that will complement chimichurri the way chimichurri complements smoky, seared foods.
- Tangueray Rangpur
- Pitcher of chilled iced tea
- Mint simple syrup
To make mint simple syrup:
- Bring 2 c. of water to a boil, reduce heat and add 2 c. of sugar.
- Stir until completely dissolved (you can’t see sugar crystal on a metal spoon) and remove from heat.
- Add a handful of washed mint to the cooling syrup.
- Once the syrup has cooled to room temperature, strain the mint and funnel the simple syrup into a glass bottle.
- Keep refrigerated and use to sweeten iced tea.
To make the Waterloo cocktail:
- Over ice, in a tall glass, add 2/3 parts mint sweetened iced tea to 1/3 part Tangueray Rangpur.
- Garnish with fresh mint and cucumber slice.
- Have several before you hit the Slip ‘n’ Slide.