Whiskey cocktail

Whiskey Cocktail Hour, Father’s Day Edition: License To Grill

Dads and barbecues go together like fireworks on the 4th of July. Whether it’s a ‘King of the Grill’ apron or a Craigslist ad looking for a ‘Generic Father Figure’ for a backyard party, we know a barbecue is the realm of life. ‘a father. A delicious barbecue is this month’s Cocktail Hour inspiration in tribute to father figures around the world.

Barbecuing is almost a sacred practice all over the United States. Each region has its own style, but I won’t argue which is better because I love all barbecues. On the other hand, since we are making a cocktail, we want a sweet, tart and smoky sauce. I went with my favorite barbecue sauce, Lillie’s Q No. 22 Smoky Memphis-Style Sweet, but feel free to make your own.

It sounds crazy to add barbecue sauce to a cocktail, but with the right sauce and the right whiskey all the elements are there. For License to Grill, I’ve always found Russell’s Reserve a good whiskey-barbecue pairing. If you want higher proof, Wild Turkey 101 also works as it is the cherry flavor that comes from both whiskeys. The cherry goes well with the spiciness of the barbecue sauce.

The sweet, smoky spices in the sauce take License to Grill to the next level, but the sweetness in the sauce isn’t enough. I use BG Reynolds Hazelnut Orgeat as a sweetener to add some depth with the hazelnut, and because I’m also allergic to almonds. Feel free to use regular orgeat if you have it on hand, but demerara syrup is also a great substitute for a nut-free version.

The complicated aspect of License to Grill is the smoking of the cocktail. There are many smoking kits in the market like this one from Smoke Boards, but you can easily DIY a smoker. Any steaming fries will do for the cocktail. I chose pecan, but mesquite, apple, or even whiskey crisps from Jack Daniel’s or Crown Royal will do. You want to make sure you have a safe place to light the wood chips and a pot that can handle some heat. Then all you have to do is set them on fire!

The grill license will go with whatever dad cooks. It’s perfect for the Grill Master himself, but it’s sure to be a hit at the backyard barbecue all summer long. Happy grilling!

License to Grill cocktail (image via Courtney Kristjana/The Whiskey Wash)

Permit to grill


  • 2 ½ ounces Russell’s Reserve 10
  • ½ ounce BG Reynolds hazelnut barley syrup or Demerara syrup
  • 1 bar spoon Lillie’s Q No. 22 Smoky Memphis-Style Sweet Sauce
  • 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
  • Burnt ends for garnish


  • Shaking boxes
  • Hawthorne colander
  • Mixing Spoon
  • Torch
  • wood chips
  • Jar with lid


  1. On a safe surface (smoking board, baking sheet with aluminum foil), place a small amount of smoking chips and ignite well with the torch. Cover with a jar to allow the smoke to form.
  2. In a shaker, mix all the ingredients with ice except the garnish.
  3. Top with a second shaker, making sure it’s tightly closed, and shake vigorously until the mold is ice cold.
  4. Strain through the Hawthorne strainer into the smoke pot as quickly as possible and seal with the lid.
  5. Shake vigorously to incorporate the smoke into the liquid. Keep sealed until ready to pour over a large cube in a rocks glass.
  6. Garnish with a burnt end skewer.
  7. Enjoy responsibly.