Guest Post: Jeffrey Morgenthaler is an mixologist from Portland, Oregon always in search of elements to take his cocktails to the next level. Learn more about him and why we’re excited for him to join the Traeger Pro Team here. Read his post on his Smoked Pineapple Hotel Nacional Cocktail below.
There aren’t many fruits that I find more suitable for Traeger’s smoky grilled flavor than the pineapple. It’s the perfect grill for dishes like Pork Al Pastor, but smoky, grilled pineapple is also a killer ingredient in cocktails. That sweet and tart pineapple flavor is enhanced even more when imbued with a smoky, grilled flavor. And to get that flavor into my drinks, I need to turn my grilled pineapple into a syrup.
To begin, grab a one-pound pineapple, trim both ends, and discard the ends. I then prepare the pineapple for grilling by cutting it into slices, about 3/4 inch thick. You can probably get about six to eight slices from one pineapple. Don’t worry about the skin, it doesn’t hurt to leave it on, and in fact I find it brings some nice flavors along with it.
From there, it’s up to you to decide how long you want to cook the pineapple on the Traeger. For a smokier, richer flavor, I cook mine over low heat and lots of smoke for about fifteen minutes per side. But if you’re looking for a more charred flavor that comes from caramelizing the fruit sugars, then high heat for about three minutes per side works great.
In the meantime, combine a pound of sugar with a pint of water in a saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Pour syrup into a large bowl and set aside.
When your pineapple is done cooking, cut each slice into eight or so wedges and add the wedges to the bowl with the simple syrup, tossing to coat and cover. Leave the mixture to macerate for at least 4 hours (or up to 24) in the refrigerator, stirring from time to time. Strain the syrup into a clean bowl through a fine-mesh strainer and press on the pineapple with a ladle to extract as much liquid as possible. You can bottle and refrigerate the syrup for up to 4 days (plenty to get you through the weekend).
Okay, but then what do you do with your new smoky grilled pineapple syrup? Well, my favorite recipe is San Francisco bartender Erik Adkins’ take on a classic Cuban Daiquiri variation, the Hotel Nacional Special. I can’t think of a better summer pairing with pork.
Hotel Nacional Special Recipe
1½ oz aged rum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz Smoky Grilled Pineapple Syrup
½ oz apricot brandy
1 dash Angostura bitters
Combine the rum, lime juice, pineapple syrup, apricot brandy, and bitters in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Fill with ice cubes and shake until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.
For more posts like this, read about the story behind how Jeffrey Morgenthaler created his Bacon Old-Fashioned Cocktail.