One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is enjoying the moment, and the summer is full of opportunities to do just that — and who doesn’t love a summer BBQ or picnic? These laidback get-togethers give you the time and space to kick back, relax, make some food and drinks for your friends and family, and just enjoy each other's company.
If you love to sit around, enjoy a few BBQ cocktails, and engage in deep conversation (or comfortable silence), we’ve got some unique suggestions for light, refreshing, sippable drinks to serve your guests this summer.
Why do we BBQ? Where did it come from?
When we talk about BBQ, we’re not just talking about meat. You can be vegetarian or even vegan and still enjoy a BBQ — all you need is some food, a grill, and fire. Every region in the U.S. does BBQ differently (Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas are the most well-known hubs), but the essential components are the same. The history of BBQ is as old as America, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep finding new and exciting ways to make this tradition your own.
When hosting a BBQ, you don’t have to go over the top to customize your offerings. However, being a good host means at least taking people’s preferences into account. If anyone on the guest list has allergies, dietary restrictions, or is sober, make sure to have options for them.
How To Make Homemade Lemonade
Whether you make any of the lemonade-based BBQ cocktails that we’ll feature in a minute or a non-alcoholic option for any sober people or children coming to your get-together, we want you to have a solid base to get started.
To make 10 servings of homemade lemonade, you’ll need:
- 9 medium lemons
- 1.75 cups granulated white sugar
- 8 cups ice-cold distilled or filtered water
To make this lemonade, start with simple syrup instead of just adding sugar. Simple syrup stops the lemonade from being grainy and keeps it more uniform in texture, so it’s well worth the extra time it takes to make it.
Simple syrup is easy to make. Start by adding the sugar and a cup of water to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, frequently stirring until all of the sugar has been dissolved and the liquid is clear. Allow the syrup to cool while you prep the rest of the recipe.
If you haven’t juiced fresh lemons before, here’s a pro tip! Rolling the lemons around on the countertop can soften them up, which helps get even more juice out of them. Once you’ve rolled them around for a bit, cut them in half and squeeze them into a measuring cup. Leave any pulp, but pick out any seeds — aim for about a cup and a half of lemon juice.
Add the lemon juice to a large pitcher, then add the rest of the water and stir. Once thoroughly combined, add the simple syrup, frequently tasting until it’s as tart or sweet as you want. Finish by adding ice!
The Top 6 Best Summer BBQ Cocktails and Picnic Drinks
BBQ cocktails are about fun, sun, and light refreshment. The goal is to have an enjoyable time, not ensure you can’t get out of bed the next day. Here are six of our favorite drinks you can sip and enjoy all summer.
1. Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Lemonade is a quintessential summer BBQ drink. Combining that with alcohol gives you everything you want in a summer drink — it’s light, refreshing, and won’t leave you feeling heavy or weighed down (especially when the weather gets extra hot and humid).
We have a few different lemonade combinations to serve as BBQ cocktails, and strawberry basil lemonade is one of our favorites.
For a single strawberry lemonade, you’ll need:
- 4 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 1.5 ounces Haus Strawberry Basil
- 3 ounces lemonade
Start by muddling the strawberries in the bottom of a tumbler glass, then add ice. Pour Haus Strawberry Basil over the ice, top with lemonade, and garnish with a fresh strawberry slice.
2. Lemon Lavender Lemonade
Lemon and lavender are two other tastes of summer, so combining them with lemonade is a no-brainer. Plus, this drink comes together super quickly, so you can make up a batch and get back to your company.
There’s no real recipe for lemon lavender lemonade; all you need is Haus Lemon Lavender, lemonade, and ice. We recommend an ounce of Haus Lemon Lavender per tumbler glass of lemonade over ice, but add to taste.
3. Grapefruit Jalapeno Paloma
The paloma is a lower-maintenance margarita where you don’t have to shake anything together, and you can use far fewer components. While a traditional paloma is made with tequila Blanco, we’re making ours with Haus Grapefruit Jalapeno for a spicier twist. Gather the following:
- 2 ounces Haus Grapefruit Jalapeno
- 0.5 ounces fresh lime juice
- Grapefruit-flavored soda (Jarritos is preferable, but Squirt will also work)
Start by running a lime wedge around the outside rim of a highball glass, then dip the glass in salt. Mix the Haus Grapefruit Jalapeno and lime juice in the bottom of the glass, stir, add ice, and top with the grapefruit soda.
4. Pineapple Mojito
Traditional Cuban mojitos are rum and lime, so adding pineapple is a fun twist on the classic. If you’ve already got the grill going, throw the pineapple on before using it in this cocktail for even more delicious, summery vibes.
We’ll start by making a pineapple simple syrup using ½ cup water, ½ cup pineapple, and ½ cup raw sugar. Combine the first two ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Once boiling, add the sugar and stir until it has all been dissolved. You may notice foam on top; this will dissipate when removed from the heat and stirred.
You’ll want your syrup to cool completely before using it, and it can be stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to two weeks.
Now comes the fun part — it’s time to make your pineapple mojito! Your ingredient list is as follows:
- 1.5 ounces pineapple simple syrup
- ¼ cup pineapple chunks (fresh, if possible)
- 2 limes, quartered
- 4 - 6 fresh mint leaves, torn
- 2 ounces light or spiced rum
- 2 - 3 ounces club soda
Muddle the syrup, pineapple chunks, lime, and mint in the bottom of a collins glass. Follow with the rum, then ice, and top with club soda. Garnish with a chunk of pineapple and a few mint leaves.
As a side note, if you’re not a big fan of chunks of fruit and mint in your drink, you can muddle in a separate mixing glass, add the rum, and strain the mixture into your collins glass before adding ice and club soda. While the flavor may be slightly milder, the texture will be much more uniform.
5. Rosé Sorbet Float
Root beer floats are a summer staple, but all that dairy can leave you feeling heavy in hotter weather. Dairy-free sorbets are the perfect alternative, especially when you use them as the base for BBQ cocktails! They’re also infinitely adaptable, and you can use nearly any flavor combination of sorbet and liquor (or liqueur).
Here’s one of our favorite combos:
- 1 scoop of cherry sorbet
- 2 ounces Haus Rose Rosé
- Lemon-lime soda
If you’re feeling crafty, you can also make your own sorbet! Plenty of recipes don’t even require an ice cream maker or other special kitchen appliance. DIY sorbet allows you to customize your flavor profiles even further.
6. Moscow Mule
Moscow mules make excellent BBQ cocktails, as they’re slightly spicy while still being light and refreshing. Plus, the copper mugs they’re usually served in are a great photo opportunity if you’re the type who likes to document everything! Also, like the sorbet float, Moscow Mules can be changed and adapted to fit your taste or any party theme.
Let’s start with the traditional recipe; then, we’ll give you some ideas for mixing it up (pun intended):
- 2 ounces vodka
- 0.5 ounces fresh lime juice
- 3 ounces ginger beer
Start by adding ice to your glass (you can use a highball glass if you don’t want to buy copper mugs), followed by the vodka and lime juice. Top with ginger beer, stir if desired, and garnish with a lime wedge.
If you’re looking for something slightly different, try substituting tequila, whiskey, or rum. To change the flavor a little more than that, try a Haus apéritif — Ginger Yuzu and Citrus Flower are two of our favorites.
Haus apéritifs help you celebrate the apéritif lifestyle in summer and year-round. Topping off your summer picnic or get-together with a few BBQ cocktails is the perfect end to a perfect day. When you choose a lower ABV drink, you can enjoy your gathering without having to worry about feeling like garbage the next day.