This month, we’re heading outdoors with the best drinks for the backyard, beach, and beyond. In Take It Outside, we’re exploring our favorite local spots and far-flung destinations that make summer the ultimate season for elevated drinking.
With heatwaves and croaking cicadas arriving in full force, there’s no doubt that summer is here. Along with those unpleasantries comes the beloved tradition of moving everything outdoors for backyard barbecues or public park parties. While rooftop cocktails and outdoor dining are exciting outings, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned cookout to help us settle into the season.
While most grill masters focus on the meats and marinades, we at VinePair believe that drinks are equally, if not more important. From low-ABV beers and crisp wines, to refreshing and over-the-top cocktails, these are the beverages our team is reaching for at summer barbecues.
“I’m glad you asked! I declared this the summer of wheat beer and am sticking to it. A go-to of mine for the last decade has been Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen, which is basically grapefruit soda mixed with German wheat beer. It’s 2.5 percent ABV, and is both sweet and sessionable. Another wheat beer I keep returning to this year is Sixpoint Apollo, which was reintroduced this year after a long hiatus — it’s widely available and pair-able with pretty much anything.” —Cat Wolinski, senior editor
“When it comes to BBQ, my mind always goes to Korean BBQ — my favorite indulgence — or the time my friends grilled a whole gator at a crawfish boil in NOLA. In either situation, I wish I’d had a salty, sparkling lemonade spiked with St. George Spirits Green Chile Vodka or the savory (Portuguese) João Pato Pet Nat Rosé. —Emma Cranston, assistant editor
“I’ve been a vegetarian for almost my entire life, so I’ve always associated summer cookouts with carrot sticks and boring side dishes. Since the food at barbecues doesn’t particularly excite me, I go big on drinks. Catch me mixing up Bloody Marys made with Toma’s horseradish mix, Belvedere, and all the garnishes.” —Katie Brown, associate editor
“My preferred grilling drink: Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, which, depending on whom you ask is either a very dark rosé or a very light red wine, but is made from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and is crisp and refreshing while still having some tannins, body, and savory notes.” —Zach Geballe, “VinePair Podcast” host
“It’s always fun to use the grill as a complement to the bar, and a Grilled Spiked Lemonade is my favorite way to combine the two. Sugar-coated lemons caramelized over the fire make for a smoky garnish, and a choice of spirits: vodka, rum, tequila, or all three, with a healthy pour of triple sec, homemade lemonade, and a lot of ice create the perfect summertime cocktail for cooking out with friends.” —Travis Gillmore, editorial intern
“There is nothing like pulling out a cold bottle of Lambrusco from the cooler on a hot day, popping that cork into the sun, and sipping that frothy, bubbly red goodness with some ribs slathered Carolina-style.” —Keith Beavers, tastings director
“Take a refreshing Arnold Palmer — half lemonade and half iced tea — add a healthy pour of vodka, and you have yourself a John Daly, the perfect drink to pair with BBQ.” —Mark Jacobs, SVP, brand partnerships
“For backyard cookouts or other warm-weather outdoor gatherings, if I’m not drinking the coldest summery beer I can find, it’s hard to beat a Cointreau Fizz (Cointreau, lime juice, and club soda over ice). It’s zippy, refreshing, and very easy to make by the pitcher for groups.” —Joanna Sciarrino, executive editor
“To cool off at a summer BBQ, my choice of drink would have to be a Limoncello Gin Collins.” —Elgin Nelson, editorial intern
“Most of the summer barbecuing I’ve done in my life took place when I lived in Argentina — which really isn’t a bad place to live if you like huge cuts of meat pulled straight from the grill. In homage to that, whenever there’s a cookout going on I’ll kick things off with a few Fernet con cocas before moving on to a good bottle of Malbec.” —Tim McKirdy, staff writer