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

Dads and barbecues go hand in hand like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Whether it be a “King of the Grill” apron or a Craigslist ad looking for a “Generic Father Figure” for a backyard party, we know that a barbecue is a father’s domain. Delicious barbecue is this month’s Cocktail Hour inspiration in tribute to father figures everywhere. 

Barbecue is almost a sacred practice all around the United States. Each region has its own style, but I will not debate which is better because I like all barbecue. On the other hand, since we are making a cocktail we want a sweet, tangy, 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 always found Russell’s Reserve a good pairing whiskey with barbecue. If you want higher proof, Wild Turkey 101 also works because it is all about the cherry flavor that comes through in both whiskies. The cherry pairs well with the tanginess of the barbecue sauce. 

The sweet and smoky spices from the sauce take License to Grill to the next level, but the sweetness from the sauce is not enough. I use BG Reynolds Hazelnut Orgeat for the sweetener to add a little depth with the nuttiness, and because I am 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 on the market like the one by Smoke Boards, but you can easily DIY a smoker. Any smoking chips will do for the cocktail. I chose pecan, but mesquite, apple, or even the whiskey chips from Jack Daniel’s or Crown Royal will do. You want to make sure you have a safe area to light the wood chips and a jar that can withstand a little bit of heat. Then all you have to do is torch them up!

The License to Grill will go with whatever dad is grilling up. It is perfect for the Grill Master himself, but it is sure to be a hit at the backyard barbecue all summer long. Happy grilling!

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

License to Grill


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


  • Shaker Tins
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Bar Spoon
  • Torch
  • Wood Chips
  • Jar with lid


  1. On a safe surface (smoking board, baking sheet with foil) place a small amount of smoking chips and light well with the torch. Cover with a jar to allow smoke to build. 
  2. In a shaker tin, combine all the ingredients with ice except for the garnish.
  3. Top with a second shaker tin, make sure it is sealed securely, and shake vigorously until the tin is frosty. 
  4. Strain with Hawthorne strainer into the smoke jar as quickly as possible and seal with lid.
  5. Shake vigorously to incorporate the smoke into the liquid. Keep sealed until ready to pour over a big cube in a rocks glass. 
  6. Garnish with a burnt end skewer.  
  7. Enjoy responsibly.

Courtney Kristjana

Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the Quaich. When it comes to reviews, her opinions may be strong like the peat in her scotch, but she guarantees honesty and integrity all the while keeping an open mind.

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