Even if you're a total grilling expert, you're not ready to throw a rockin' Memorial Day party without a plan for the drinks. A good host will be ready with something refreshing, and the key to success is planning in advance.
Need a little beverage inspiration? Check out the recipes and tips below.
It's important that every party offer some alcohol-free options, not just for folks who are abstaining from booze but also to give people a chance to take a break between alcoholic drinks.
Or offer a lemonade bar with a few options, like Kenji's Watermelon-Mint Lemonade, Peach-Thyme Lemonade, and Cucumber-Basil Lemonade. Want something with a little spice? Go for Lychee-Thai Chili Lemonade or Spicy Strawberry Jalapeño Lemonade.
I've been assured that lime prices are falling back to reasonable levels now that the California lime harvest is arriving, so you could also batch up a pitcher or two of limeade. Consider this raspberry version, or try this unusual (and unusually delicious) black-pepper spiced variation.
In case your guests need a little caffeination, make a batch of cold-brewed tea in the fridge. That's right: sun tea is actually better without the sun. Want to offer iced coffee? Our favorite method is pourover brewed directly onto ice.
No one wants to be slave to the shaker when there's a crowd of (thirsty) friends around. Instead, focus on drinks you can make in advance, like sangria. And on a warm day, nothing's better than a crisp, tart white sangria. This Sauvignon Blanc-based version is spiked with gin for a little herbal flavor. Starfruit make a mighty cute garnish.
Getting excited about the offerings at your local farmers' market? Strawberry season is in full swing, so this sparkling strawberry sangria is an ideal offering. Or go the cherry route and make this red wine-based sangria, which gets an added boost from Cherry Heering liqueur.
Watermelon with a squeeze of lime makes a fun watermelon sangria; the flavor's boosted with a little rum and fresh mint.
Cocktails by the Pitcher
If you're starting early, this brunch-friendly variation on the Salty Dog which calls for freshly squeezed grapefruit, tonic water, and tequila or mezcal is a nice way to launch the party. A light and savory pre-prepped beer cocktail inspired by sangrita will go nicely with breakfast dishes and on into an afternoon and evening of grilling.
If you love Campari, try this pretty pink blend of Campari, tequila, and tangerine. It's easy to mix for a crowd and not too boozy, thanks to the addition of seltzer water. A simple hibiscus and lime syrup adds color and tart flavor to this Hibiscus-Tequila Cooler.
Thinking margaritas? Ripe cantaloupe makes a wonderfully fruity but not-too-sweet melon version, cut with plenty of fresh lime juice. You can blend these up a few hours in advance, but don't be surprised if you find yourself stealing sips of the chilled mixture out of the fridge. Or how about a strawberry-rhubarb margarita?
Beer and Wine
Cocktails are well and good, but nothing's easier than a bucket full of beer and wine. If it's an all-day affair, hopheads will appreciate these lower-alcohol options. It's a great time, too, to stock up on beers that are only available in the summer time. (Here are a few of our favorites.)
Thinking of trying to find the ultimate beer pairing for your Memorial Day grillfest? Smoked beer is a good place to start, and experts recommend everything from IPAs to porters for burgers. Serving ribs? Read up here.
As far as wine goes, you'll want some affordable rosé and other not-too-pricey options. We've also gathered some tips on the best wines for day drinking and the best wines for different types of grilled sausages. Take a look!