When summer rolls around, I think of two things: grilling and ice-cold beverages. To me, nothing beats loading up the grill with charcoal, letting the smell of smoke get stuck to your clothing, and imbibing the most refreshing drink you can find.
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It only follows that if these two combine to make the perfect summer experience, then a grilled ice-cold beverage would be the ultimate concoction. That explains why grilled lemonade—smoky, tangy, sweet, and wildly refreshing—is my new favorite drink. And it's easy to make while you grill your burgers and corn.
You want to start with a lot of lemons, because you'll lose a fair amount of juice on the grill (and because it's so delicious that you'll almost surely be asking yourself, "Why didn't I make more?").
Simple enough, right?
Put some sugar in a bowl or on a plate, and rub the open side of each lemon half in the sugar, like you're dipping the rim of a margarita glass in salt. The sugar helps the lemons caramelize on the grill, and gives them a very strong flavor.
Place your lemons on the grill, sugar side down, with the heat at medium or medium-high.
They'll cook for 5–15 minutes depending on how juicy the lemons are, and how hot your grill is.
Good lemonade is usually sweetened with simple syrup, and grilled lemonade is the perfect medium for flavored simple syrup, which you can make on the grill while your lemons caramelize. Add equal parts sugar and water to a disposable aluminum pie tin, and then flavor it with the herb of your choice (I recommend rosemary, mint, or basil).
Alternately, if your grill lacks space, you can make it beforehand.
You want your lemons to cook until they're caramelized, but not yet burned. You may have to check them with some regularity, and some will cook faster than others. I recommend removing the lemons with a spatula rather than tongs, as the citrus is extremely soft and will lose its juice with even a light squeeze.
Squeeze your lemons through a strainer, and make sure to use a spoon to push through as much juice as possible. The lemons will be very easy to squeeze, so this won't take long at all. Add a little bit of simple syrup and a little bit of water, and then taste it. You'll have to adjust the amount of simple syrup and water to taste; because lemons vary in size and tartness, there's no general ratio, so just add until it all tastes good!
Despite how much I've talked up grilled lemonade, it's still only my second favorite summer drink. My favorite? Grilled lemonade with bourbon.