Barbecue Beverage Planning

Written by Kevin Schulke
Category Manager of Beer, Wine and Salty Snacks

Well, that tiny bit of snow that all of us in the Northeast experienced this winter is now but a fading memory.  The days are getting longer, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, (hopefully you’re getting this picture) and it’s time to turn our concerns to some of the more important things in life, that is the next Great Barbecue and of course planning the all important adult beverages to go along with it.

The first rule of beverage planning is to go for something a little different. After all, if you want your guests talking about the great barbecue that they went to over the weekend you’ll definitely need to include something more than your typical drink options.

For starters, we’re recommending a blast from the past- Sangria. At one time this was a very popular wine offer, now it’s just the retro beverage offer to start your BBQ event, and strangely enough you’ll find that even non-wine drinkers will enjoy your efforts. Here is a simple recipe that takes almost no time to prepare and has a great balance of alcohol and fruit with an acidic backbone to stand up to any spicy rub or BBQ Sauce and other strong grilled flavors.

Simply Simple Sangria 1 Bottle Red Wine (medium body dry red wine) 1 to 2 cups Brandy – Start with 1 cup and adjust after sampling 1 to 2 cups Price Chopper sugar – Adjust to your taste as you sample 1 lemon 1 lime 1 orange 5 strawberries 1 apple 2 cups Price Chopper club soda

Method: Slice the fruit and place in a large pitcher with all ingredients except for the club soda. Allow to sit for at least 2 hours. If you have the foresight, make it the night before. Just before serving, add club soda and plenty of ice cubes. If it tastes too strong, just add more club soda.

As a time saving alternative, purchase the fresh fruit as noted in the recipe above and pick up a couple bottles of Madria Sangria. It’s inspired by an original Spanish recipe and really quite good.  You’ll still need to pre-chill the wine and don’t skip the fresh fruit. Be certain to have a back-up supply as everyone will love your “starter” beverage and you’re going to need more than you think.

Let’s turn our attention next to a wine to serve with the food. Be bold and try something intensely fruity with deep color and fruit aromas followed by a palate of dark plum, blackberry, and spice; let’s try Brazin Zinfandel. The vines are old, the grapes are small, and the fruit is quite intense. The Lodi Region where Brazin comes from is known for the blistering daytime heat which is always followed by the cooling ocean breeze that floats along the Sacramento River and arrives late every afternoon just in time to cool the grapes before a good night’s sleep. The winemakers efforts speak for themselves and your guests will love it. 

Additional recommendations:

Don Miguel Malbec is full bodied with deep violet color aromas and flavors of blackberry, blueberries, plum, dark cherry and a heavenly hint of mocha.

Alamos Chardonnay enjoy its flavors of ripe apple, apricot, and peaches with a pinch of spice and butterscotch.

We all know it would not be a barbecue season if we did not include the beer. Before we select our special beer make certain your plan calls for a cooler with plenty of ice as your beer is not to be kept in the refrigerator, never ever in the refrigerator.  Our highlighted selection has been around for quite awhile; in 1842 this pilsner marked its debut and is actually the first pilsner beer ever. In spite of its 160 year history it’s unlikely that many of your guests will be familiar with this brew full of malty, buttery flavor, and a crisp, clean finish. The bitter finish is from the hops and it is the perfect contrast to the common sweetness of barbecue sauces, it’s a virtual palate cleansing with each and every sip. Allow me to introduce Pilsner Urquell, its home is in the Czech Republic but you’ll be happy to have it visit your home any day.

Additional recommendations:

Long Trail Double Bag is a dark amber strong ale, also known as “Stickebier” German slang for “secret brew”. It isn’t secret anymore….

Killian’s Red is made with a unique level of bitterness and carbonation from its caramel malts that will tantalize your taste buds while it compliments dishes with traditional barbecue sauces.

We all know what an involved process it is to plan a successful outdoor party; it would be a shame to have your best efforts wasted because you didn’t plan the all important beverage accompaniments!  The secret to a good plan is simple:

  • Change is good, try something different
  • Choose beverages that both complement and enhance your food menu
  • Barbecue beer never goes in the refrigerator, in a cooler with ice only

Most important note, have numerous outdoor grilling parties this summer and enjoy each and every one, as next winter we’re all going to need bigger shovels.  Cheers, and always remember to celebrate responsibly!

Leave a Reply