Alcohol of any kind has excellent marinating power. It seeps into the meat, tenderizing and drawing in flavor. By selecting a cocktail that has fruit juices and other liquors, you can add a new twist to an existing favorite. If you choose to prepare kebabs or a seafood dish, you can literally go from refrigerator to grill, quickly and easily.
Remember, that each type of liquor has a different effect on meat. Each meat reacts differently to alcohol. Large cuts of red meat need more marinating time than seafood and smaller cuts do. Wines are safer for a longer marinating time than hard liquors, such as vodka or gin. Fruit based alcohol tends to work well with poultry, pork, and beef, while vodka, gin, and tequila work well with seafood, fish, and poultry.
Adding fruit juices to a liquor-based marinade helps to diffuse the strength of the alcohol by sweetening the meat being prepared. The juice does not over sugar the meat, but will add a pleasant sweetness to it as well as providing extra acidity to aid in the tenderization process.
The best part about grilling these cocktail dishes is also where you need to be the most careful. About a second after your alcohol marinated foods hit the grill the alcohol is going to combust. This is the real show stopper and the reason you want to give your guests a good seat for the show. However, this combustion can be excessive and sometimes dangerous. First, you should let alcohol marinated foods drain for a few minutes before you put them on the grill. This will reduce any flare-ups. Second, you should put these items on the grill using a pair of long handled tongs enabling you to keep your distance. Understand that there will be flare-ups and you should be ready for it.
The flash of fire when alcohol marinated foods hit the grill will burn off all the alcohol on the surface. There will continue to be some additional flare-ups as the alcohol and any fat leaks out of the meat and hits the fire. If you are grilling seafood or kebabs the cooking time will be short, so hang around and make sure that nothing gets burned. Be prepared to move items away from strong flare-ups so they can cook without burning. If the fire gets too hot, turn down the heat and let the flare-ups do some of the cooking. Grilling dishes that contain alcohol isn't that hard, I just want you to be prepared for what is might happen and be ready for it.
For some great cocktail grilling ideas you might want to try:
- Gin and Tonic Grilled Chicken Kebabs
- Grilled Margarita Shrimp
- Mai Tai Turkey Kebabs
- Smoked Sangria Beef Brisket
- Vodka Martini Smoked Salmon
To really liven up a great party you can also serve up some grilled cocktails. By preparing small skewers of fruit for your drinks and then grilling those for a minute over a high heat you can really add some great flavor to any cocktail. For example thread cubes of pineapple (see recipe) onto a short, three inch, bamboo skewer. Baste them in rum while grilling. Then when you’re ready to serve up a set of Mai Tai’s, drop the pineapple kebabs on the grill. Turn frequently until the pineapple starts to brown. Pull of the grill and drop into your drink. The grill enhances the flavor of the pineapple and your Mai Tai’s will taste even more delicious.