Gunner’s Libation: Summer Smoke

by LEANNE ITALIE for The Associated Press


One of our favorite local mezcalinis: El Mero, Mero from Venga Venga on the Snowmass Mall.

Sombra mezcal blanco

Spicy cucumber


Serrano chili

Richard Sandoval chipotle citrus salt

Shake ingredients over ice; strain. Garnish with Richard Sandoval chipotle citrus salt and cucumber slice.

Summer’s on its way and that means grilling for many people, so why not try smoking? Steven Raichlen, who wrote “The Barbecue! Bible,” has followed with “Project Smoke,” also the name of a PBS series he hosts that will launch its second season over Memorial Day weekend. The step-by-step book, out this month from Workman Publishing, covers gear, technique, recipes and the science behind the cooking method that Raichlen shows can be used on everything from appetizers to dessert to cocktails. “When you smoke cocktails you are joining two worlds: the cocktail world and the barbecue world. You’re sort of creating barbecue you can drink. I’m not the first guy to come up with this concept. When you think about Scotch whisky, it’s a whisky that’s made with smoked barley, so thousands of years ago people conceived the notion that smoke and booze are a very good combination,” Raichlen says. “Mezcal is another classic example. I know this summer I’m going to be making a lot of mezcalinis. That’s sort of a cross between a mojito and a margarita. It’s made with muddled mint and cucumber. Mezcal is an agave cactus-based spirit from the Oaxaca region in Mexico. The cactus hearts are smoke-roasted in a pit before distilling so it has a good, smoky flavor. I like to beef that flavor up by adding smoke using a smoking gun to fill up the cocktail in the pitcher.”