BBQ Bonanza 2011 - ‘Cued Cocktails at Kingsford University

What goes better with barbecue than cocktails? I'm talking about Grilled Cocktails. Well, we've grilled everything else, why not grilled cocktails?!

I'm thrilled that this week we have a guest post from Melanie Yunk, Founder of the SEO company, Roaring Pajamas. Denise Woodward who shot our BBQ Bonanza logo picture (above) at the Kingsford University. Denise and Melanie are both Twitter buds that found themselves at Kingsford U - sadly, without me. They both enjoyed the experience and came away inspired, lucky for us.


'Cued Cocktails at Kingsford University

Guest Post by Melanie Yunk

The day was beautiful, sunny and warm. The grills were hot and smoky. The cocktails were grilled with Kingsford Charcoal. Yes, that’s right… we learned how to grill cocktails!

Josh Perry, Mixologist, Picán Restaurant in Oakland, California, and Marcus Wang, Senior Scientist, Kingsford R&D, led my favorite course at this year’s Kingsford University in Las Vegas. Who would think that in the midst of all the RVs at the NASCAR Sprint Cup on March 4, we would be grilling fruit, bacon and flavored simple syrups for our afternoon happy hour cocktails?

When Kingsford donated a smoker to Picán for their outdoor patio, Josh experimented with smoked ingredients for his cocktails. The result: a smoky Berkshire Old Fashioned, a smoked Sangria and a Barbecued Bloody Mary.

One common ingredient in all these cocktails is smoked lemon juice, and lemons are so easy to grill. To smoke lemon juice, follow these simple steps:

  • Slice lemons in half through the equator.
  • Dip in sugar and place on the grill, cut side down.
  • Grill 5 to 7 minutes, until grill marks appear.
  • Remove lemons and set aside to cool. Once cooled, squeeze into a pitcher.

Other grilled cocktail ingredients included bacon, jalapenos and oranges. After sampling a delicious Sangria and smoked lemonade, we were all challenged to a Cued Cocktails Competition where the best grilled cocktail would reign. Teams were formed, ingredients selected and we all set off to grill and innovate.

Our team created the “Spicy Bacon Cherry Jubilee”, made with bacon-infused Four Roses Bourbon, smoked orange juice, gourmet Maraschino cherries and a Chipotle Sugar Rim. We garnished our cocktail with a cherry and bacon swizzle.

The judges included Chris Lilly and the folks from Kingsford. The competition was really tough and we were pushed out by the Bloody Pig, a spicy “Bloody Mary” with a pork rib sizzle. Oh well, better luck next time.

So, get your grill ready and try Josh Perry’s recipe for smoked Sangria during your next barbecue.

Louisville Sangria

Makes: 7-8 drinks

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 1 hour


  • 6 oranges, cut in half through the equator
  • 4 lemons, cut in half through the equator
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 chipotle peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces Four Roses Bourbon
  • 12 ounces Seghesio Zinfandel
  • 12 ounces soda water


  1. Build a fire for indirect cooking using Kingsford charcoal. Once the charcoals are ready, push the coals to one side, leaving the other side of the grill void.
  2. Grill lemons and oranges per instructions above, cool, squeeze 4 ounces of orange juice and 2 ounces lemon juice and set aside. Slice remaining fruit for garnish.
  3. While the citrus is cooling, combine brown sugar and water and bring to a simmer over medium direct heat on the grill, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Add chipotle peppers and simmer at least 30 minutes.
  4. After cooling the syrup, combine bourbon, Zinfandel, 4 ounces smoked orange juice, 2 ounces smoked lemon juice and 3 ounces chipotle syrup in a sealable container and shake well.
  5. To create the Louisville Sangria, add the mixture to a pitcher filled with ice. Add soda water, stir and serve. Garnish wit remaining slices of smoked oranges and lemons.

Melanie Yunk is a food writer and former founder/saucier at Big Acres Gourmet Foods. She’s also a social media and search engine optimization consultant and founder of Roaring Pajamas.  She lives in northern California with her husband and 2 Cornish Rex cats.

Last Sauce Trio from Our Sponsor - Silk Road BBQ giving away another set of their terrific barbecue sauces; each winner will receive:

  • one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork);
  • one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy);
  • and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).

Enter a comment here to win the third and final Silk Road Sauce trio (not available in stores.)

I think the jerk marinade would be perfect for tofu or tempeh. Leave a comment here with your favorite vegetarian grilling tip or recipe and I'll use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner!