For many of us, summer is the perfect time to gather with friends and family and enjoy some delicious barbecue. Whether it's just unwinding after a long day or hosting a cookout, nothing beats the savory and smoky flavors of grilled meats and veggies. And what better way to boost that experience than by pairing it with the perfect cocktail? We say perfect because not just any cocktail will work when it comes to BBQ. You need to find something that can withstand the complex flavors of barbecue without overpowering them.
However, with so many flavor profiles and ingredients in the market today, it can be challenging to know what cocktail works best for you. That is why we've compiled a list of 15 delectable cocktail and BBQ pairings that are sure to elevate your meal to a whole new level.
1. Grilled Lemon Gin and Tonic
Grilled Lemon Gin and Tonic is a delightful twist on the original gin and tonic cocktail. It pairs exceptionally well with shrimp skewers and is perfect for summer outdoor barbecues.
- 2 oz. Suntory Roku Gin
- 8 oz. tonic water
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh lemon, cut into slices
Preheat your grill and place the lemon slices until they develop grill marks. In a glass, muddle some grilled lemon slices and thyme sprigs. Add ice cubes to the glass and pour the gin and tonic water. Stir and garnish with a grilled lemon or thyme sprig.
2. Sunshine Smash
Looking for a refreshing cocktail for your next BBQ party? Look no further than the Sunshine Smash cocktail. This drink's smooth and sweet flavors paired with some boneless short ribs will have you coming back for more.
- 2 oz. Michter's Small Batch Sour Mash
- 2 blackberries
- 3 blueberries
- ½ oz. maple syrup
- ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 sliced strawberry
- ¼ oz. blackberry vinegar
Muddle the berries with lemon juice, whiskey, vinegar, and syrup in a cocktail shaker. Strain the mixture into another glass with crushed ice. Garnish with berries.
3. Bourbon Lemonade
You can never go wrong with pairing a Bourbon Lemonade with BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.
- 2 oz. Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon
- 4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- Lemon slices, for garnish
- Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup
Mix the bourbon, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill a glass with ice cubes and pour the mixture. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.
4. Moscow Mule
The Moscow Mule is a classic and refreshing cocktail that pairs excellently with grilled BBQ shrimp skewers.
- 2 oz. Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 1 lime wedge for garnish
- 4 oz. ginger beer
Simply combine the ingredients in a mug and stir. Garnish with the lime wedge.
5. Spicy Margarita
Spicy Margaritas pair well with spicy shrimp tacos as the cocktail's heat complements the flavorful shrimp.
- 2 oz. Clase Azul Reposado Tequila
- ½ oz. lime juice
- ½ oz. orange juice
- 1 oz. agave
- 1 jalapeño
- Salt and lime wedge
Rim your glass and fill it with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine the ingredients and shake vigorously for 30 seconds before straining into the glass. Serve and enjoy.
6. Skinny Margarita
The Skinny Margarita is a lighter and healthier version of the Margarita. It pairs wonderfully with grilled chicken and creates a delightful summer dining experience.
- 2 oz. 1800 Silver Tequila
- ½ oz. fresh lime juice
- ½ oz. fresh orange juice
- 2 lime wedges
- 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
Use one lime wedge to rim your glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with the ingredients and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the mixture into your glass and use the other lime wedge to garnish.
Mojitos pair exceptionally well with various BBQ dishes, but one standout pairing is with grilled Cuban mojo chicken.
- 10 fresh mint leave
- 3 lime wedges
- 1 ½ oz. Selvarey White Rum
- ½ cup club soda
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
In a sturdy glass, muddle the mint leaves and one lime wedge. Add the remaining lime wedges and sugar, then muddle again. Fill the glass with ice and add the rum and club soda. Stir and add sugar if necessary.
8. Tequila Mule
Tequila Mule is another summertime favorite that pairs well with grilled tacos for a refreshing contrast.
- 2 oz. Don Julio Rosado
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 4 oz. ginger beer
- ½ oz. agave
- ½ oz. orange liqueur
Combine the tequila, lime juice, agave, and orange liqueur in a cocktail shaker, then strain it into a glass. Top off with the ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge if desired.
9. Classic Margarita
Combine the zesty flavors of a Classic Margarita with the smokiness of grilled shrimp tacos. The zesty lime in the Margarita matches the succulent shrimp, resulting in a tasty fiesta for your taste buds.
- 2 lime wheels for garnish
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 4 oz. Patron Silver Tequila
- 2 oz. Cointreau
- 2 oz. fresh lime juice
Run the lime wedge around your glass and dip the rim in salt. Mix all the ingredients in a shaker and strain the liquid into the glass. Garnish with the lime wheels and serve.
10. Cucumber Gin Fizz
Cool off with a Cucumber Gin Fizz as you enjoy a colorful grilled veggie platter. The crispness of the cocktail perfectly complements the earthy flavors of the vegetables, making it an amazing summer treat.
- 2 oz. Hendricks Gin
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 4 slices cucumber
- 1 oz. simple syrup
- 6 oz. sparkling water
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker. Drain the mixture into a chilled glass and garnish with a cucumber slice.
11. Coconut Rum Punch
Double up on coconut delight with a Coconut Rum Punch and grilled coconut shrimp. This pairing is sure to transport you and your guests to an island paradise.
- 1 cup coconut rum
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons grenadine syrup
- 2 maraschino cherries
Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher. Strain the mixture into a glass and garnish with maraschino cherries if desired.
12. Peach Bellini
A Peach Bellini paired with the sweetness of grilled peaches is a delectable addition to any BBQ party.
- 1 ripe peach
- ½ cup water
- 1 bottle Ruffino Prosecco
- 8 fresh raspberries
Combine the peach and raspberries in a blender pitcher and blend until smooth. Pour the puree into a flute glass and top off with the prosecco.
13. Tequila Sunrise
If you want a refreshing and easy-to-make cocktail, consider trying the Tequila Sunrise. This cocktail is perfect for summer barbecue gatherings, especially when paired with chicken quesadillas.
- 2 oz. Don Julio Tequila Blanco
- 4 oz. orange juice
- ½ oz. grenadine syrup
- Orange slice for garnish
Pour the tequila and orange juice into a glass with ice cubes. Slowly add the grenadine syrup and let it sink. Garnish with the orange slice.
14. Watermelon Vodka Cocktail
There is no better cocktail when the sun is out at a BBQ than this refreshing Watermelon Vodka Cocktail. Serve it with some grilled shrimp for a cooling combination.
- 4 cups fresh watermelon
- ½ tablespoon honey
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup Absolut Vodka
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Combine the watermelon, lime juice, honey, and water in a blender. Strain the liquid into a glass, add the vodka, and stir. Garnish with a watermelon slice.
15. Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail
Pair this refreshing and light cocktail with pulled pork sliders for a harmonious blend of flavors.
- 2 tablespoons strawberry mix
- 2 oz. Wheatley Vodka
- ¾ cup lemonade
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker. Pour the mixture into a chilled glass and garnish with mint leaves.
At the end of the day, the most important rule when pairing cocktails with meals is to always go for something you enjoy. So don't be scared to experiment and try new things. Who knows? You might just find your new favorite cocktail and BBQ pairing in the process.
Can I Use Frozen Fruits to Make Cocktails Instead of Fresh Ones?
If you don't have fresh fruits, you can use frozen ones as a substitute. Just remember that frozen fruits usually release more water as they thaw, which could slightly dilute your drink.
Are There Any Non-alcoholic Drinks That Go Well With BBQ?
Yes! For non-alcoholic alternatives, consider drinks like fruit juice, lemonade, or root beer. These drinks will also offer a delightful blend of flavors that will complement the taste of grilled meat.
Can I Use Pre-made Cocktail Mixes?
While pre-made cocktail mixes may be convenient, they often lack the quality and freshness of homemade cocktails. Consider making a large batch of your cocktail base in advance and then add the alcohol just before serving.
How Can I Accommodate Guests With Allergies or Dietary Restrictions?
Communicate with your guests beforehand to know about any allergies or dietary restrictions. You can also offer a variety of BBQ options, like gluten-free or vegetarian choices.
Can I Use an Indoor Grill or Grill Pan if I Don't Have an Outdoor Grill?
Absolutely! Indoor grills and grill pans are amazing alternatives if you don't have an outdoor grill. However, they may not offer the same smoky flavor that outdoor grills do.