Smoky Drinks for the Barbecue Season

By NY Barfly
Created March 14, 2017
Tasty cuts of meat arent the only thing that can offer a delicious bit of smoke at your summer barbecue with a slew of wines and liquors that are heavy on the char, whats in your glass can also come with hints of the grill MORE+ LESS-

With summer coming up, folks are going to be dusting off their grills and firing up their smokers.

Tasty cuts of meat aren’t the only thing that can offer a delicious bit of smoke at your summer barbecue – with a slew of wines and liquors that are heavy on the char, what’s in your glass can also come with hints of the grill. Check out the below for a look at some smoky beverages to pair with your summer ‘cue.


The best way to get your palate accustomed to smoky notes is to start with something familiar – in this case, wine. There are a number of barbecue friendly reds that will call to mind the first bite of that barbecued pork that you’re about to bite in to, and these varietals go really well with all types of barbecue sauce. If you’re going to fire up the ‘cue and want to enjoy some vino, your go-to label should be a Zinfandel. Not to be confused with pink-hued White Zinfandel, this bold and meaty red will have flavors of tobacco (in the world of wine, that’s a good thing), earth and a little bit of smoke. While these wines are typically more alcoholic than a beer or a glass of white, they are still not as boozy as the cocktails described below, so they are a good middle-of-the-road option on multiple fronts.

Are you a wine newbie? Click here for basics.


Everyone is familiar with tequila, but Mezcal is less well known outside of spirits circles. This agave-based spirit is tequila’s smokier cousin – before the distilling process, the agave plants are roasted over a fire, which imparts flavor notes of smoke and char (the amount of smokiness depends on the label you’re sipping). You can substitute Mezcal into any cocktail that you’d use tequila for – if you want to impress your guests, mix up some smoky margaritas using the traditional recipe with Mezcal. To make this even more fiery, muddle some red peppers and throw them into the mix.

Are you a marg newbie? Click here for basics.


Of course, the smokiest of smoky beverages is a nice peaty scotch, but a glass of straight up Scotch Whiskey isn’t really anyone’s idea of a summer friendly beverage. Instead, mix up a cool Scotch cocktail with your favorite label, like the iconic Blood and Sand. Start with a smoky label like Oban or Laphroaig and mix one ounce of that with one ounce of red vermouth a half ounce of cherry brandy and one and a half ounces of orange juice. Shake that all up over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. You’ll be surprised how well this one goes with those barbecue ribs.

Are you a scotch newbie? Click here, for basics.

Quick Tip

It’s easy to add a little smoke to pretty much any beverage by using an old bartender’s trick – flaming the garnish. Take any citrus peel and squeeze the juice into a lit match right above the cocktail. This will create a little burst of flame (do this with caution!) and add some char to our beverage. For an even smokier flavor, rub the burnt peel right around the rim of you glass.

For other summery cocktails, check out these other Tablespoon recipes:

  • A pretty and cool tropical cocktail: Coconut Blue Hawaiian

  • Savor your summer - in a glass - with this refreshing, easy to make cocktail: Watermelon Gin Cocktail

  • Cut a slit in the lime slice and rub the citrus around the entire rim before anchoring it to the edge of the glass holding this cool summer classic: Gin and Tonic Cocktail